I said, "That's Wendy. And I said, "that's me. Bob Sehested of Camarillo, Calif. Trouble is, Bob didn't have the prize money, and didn't understand what had happened. The clerk behind the counter had told him his winning ticket was only worth four dollars. Lottery investigators came to Sehested's house and interviewed him. But why hadn't Bob known he'd had the winning ticket in the first place? After some more investigation, it became clear the clerk had stolen the winning ticket.
Bob Sehested: When I put my ticket on the counter for him to check it, he was waiting on another customer. And he kept glancing down at my ticket. And then, when he was done with that customer, for some reason, he went into the backroom. Then, he came back. And then, he checked my ticket and told me it was four dollars. And it seems he was prepared. He had another ticket handy in the back room ready to substitute just in case the big winner showed up.
That substitute ticket was for a mere four dollar winner. The ultimate switcharoo. Any large claim like that gets investigated, and the clerk's story about how he got the ticket didn't add up. The clerk was sentences to five years and four months in state prison. Investigators arrested the clerk. He pleaded guilty to Grand Theft and making a false claim to a Government Agency. He was sentenced to more than five years in prison.
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It was a happy ending for Bob Sehested. He used his winnings to buy into a tool manufacturing company. But he was shocked that the clerk he knew by name and saw every day would rip him off. California tries to assure that what happened to Bob, doesn't happen to others, and like most states takes extra precautions to make the lottery secure and fair. Inside Lottery headquarters in Sacramento, we were given a tour of the room where they draw those winning numbers. It's literally sealed shut. Two ID cards have to be scanned at the same time to gain entry. And then what happens-- as soon as the door opens, we have cameras that automatically come on Audio and video cameras.
Jeff Aills: If there's a lock and key, someone could get that key, duplicate and go from there. The Lottery's computer systems track everything from winning numbers and sales figures-- to where winning tickets are bought and redeemed. They even make sure those balls used to pick the Lotto numbers are all exactly the same. Jeff Aills: Every month we do a ball-weigh and cleaning and measuring. What we do is we go to the nearest thousandth of a gram. The diameters are constantly checked. And each ball is given the equivalent of the spa treatment. Jeff Aills: Wipe them off, we powder them make sure they're in good order then we tuck them into their little case and have them sealed.
Jeff Aills: It has to be, because if anyone thought that the integrity of the lottery was down, we could close our doors. No one would want to play our games. We want to ensure that everyone has a fair and equal chance. And with all that security, most people hope that if you are lucky enough to beat those odds and buy that winning ticket, you're going to get your money.
But the problem with lottery security isn't inside headquarters, but outside at the stores where tickets are bought, sold, and redeemed. We obtained lists of top winners from ten state lotteries. We found that in many of those states lottery retailers, clerks and their relatives are among the biggest winners. In California, lottery investigators were seeing the same thing. In fact, in , the five most frequent winners in California were retailers. California lottery officials want to know why some of its retailers are cashing in big.
So investigators have begun to ask questions This investigator is posing as a customer who doesn't know she has a winning ticket. Can you check these for me? I don't think they're winners, but if you could just check them for me In California, they're serious about making sure lottery retailers are honest, and have mounted an unprecedented investigation of store owners and ticket sellers. Bill Hertoghe is head of the lottery's Security Enforcement Division. He says if a person who sells lottery tickets is winning big there are just a couple of explanations.
Bill Hertoghe : There's a lot of people that are-- are-- people are winning a lot. I don't think they're playing that much. It's-- it warrants another look.
So the mission now is to send undercover lottery investigators into the field. And they're going to let us observe. But before we do, you need to know a little bit more about lottery games. No matter what state you play in, there are basically two types of games. First there're the on line games, like Powerball or Mega Millions. Called on line because it's run via the lottery's computer.
Remember, that's the kind of game Bob Sehested was playing. Scratch off the lucky words or numbers and you can win lots of money.
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As we said, you can scan your ticket and find out if you've won or lost. In some states, it even tells you how much you've won. But in many places you need to ask the clerk behind the counter to scan the tickets for you by using the lottery computer. Here's how the undercover investigation in California will work: The investigator will enter a store wearing a hidden camera, and pretend to be an ordinary customer with a few of those scratch-offs.
He'll ask the clerk behind the counter to check the tickets for him to see if any of them are winners. Chris Hansen: Is this a realistic scenario? I mean, to come in with a ticket and say, "Hey, scan it for me. Let me know if it's a winner. Bill Hertoghe: All the time.
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The majority of the public since the inception of the-- the lottery had to rely on the retailer and the clerk behind the counter. The investigator will play dumb, sometimes pretending that he doesn't play the lottery, or that the tickets belong to someone else. Then he'll go off and shop in the store. There's a reason for that. It'll give the clerk a chance to be alone while she electronically scans the tickets. When she scans the winner, it will show up as a winner on the video screen and the machine will automatically print a receipt confirming it.
And that will be the moment of truth.
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Bill Hertoghe: And that's their opportunity to do the right thing represent the lottery in the proper way. Because the ticket is a large win, the clerk correctly explains that in order to claim the money, he has to take the winning ticket to a district lottery office, or mail the ticket in along with a claim form. Everything is by the book. But some ticket sellers don't always play by the book. Investigators are beginning to see irregularities that could explain why some of those retailers end up cashing so many winning tickets.
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It's called discounting. Joan Borucki : Discounting is when a retailer or a clerk will offer to buy someone's winning ticket from-- them for a reduced amount. And then the retailer or the clerk will then-- submit it as a claim for themselves. Why would someone sell a winning ticket to a retailer for less than it's worth?
They may want to hide their winnings. Let's say a person has a dollar winning ticket. Normally, they'd have to take it to the lottery to get their money. But if they owe back taxes, court fees, or child support, the state will automatically deduct it from their winnings. In order to avoid those payments, some people, try to strike a deal. The customer gets cash in the clearand the retailer makes a profit. But lottery officials point out, discounting hurts everyone.
Joan Borucki : And that's a loss to the state, that's a loss to the victim, that's a loss to the mother and child that's owed the back child support. Investigator : I don't think these are winners, but could you check them for me please? At this store in Santa Clara, California, discounting is what this retailer is suggesting when an undercover lottery investigator hands him a winning ticket to check. He does reveal that it's a winner But the investigator pretends it might be bothersome to claim the prize money according to the rules which would mean mailing the ticket, or taking it to a lottery office to cash it.
Doesn't the lottery take that stuff out of the checks? If you have like back child support, they do? Male voice: We sometimes, we have customer And we try to help them out.
They need some money quickly, you know. So we make a convenience for customer. But that convenience is against the rules. Chris Hansen: Here's the question, though. As we said, though he did nothing illegal, discounting is against Lottery rules. And breaking those rules was costly to Mr. The lottery cancelled his contract to sell lottery tickets. But the undercover investigators in California aren't just looking for retailers who discount. They're looking for retailers who steal. We're now in Riverside, Calif. Over the next two days, undercover investigators will visit fifty stores.
Most clerks and store owners will do everything correctly.
But, watch what happens in this store. We go in with our own hidden camera and record this female investigator as she comes in. We've obscured her face because she's working undercover. At first, she goes off and pretends to shop. Investigator : I don't think these are winners, but if you could check them for me, please. We search thousnds of sites every day to help you find discounts, coupons and promo codes for possibly any deal available online. Places to go, things to do, the best places to eat and drink, must-see Chicago, trip ideas and inspiration for your Illinois vacation.
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