Lottery Guy

Check Lottery Tickets Yourself… Or Else!

December 13th, 2016   ·   Read 155 Comments...

ticket check
Here’s a timely warning. Always check winning lottery tickets yourself.

Most lottery retailers are honest decent people. And they get a real buzz when their store creates a big lottery winner.

But greed can do unpleasant things to some people.

A recent NBC broadcast warned of the danger of dishonest store clerks attempting to steal winning lottery tickets, and various other scratch off lottery ticket scams.

Here’s How It Works

You walk into your local store to check your lottery ticket. That could be a scratch-off ticket or a regular lotto game.

Heading over to the scan your ticket machine, you’re pleased to see “Congratulations, see retailer”. (Most machines do not tell you how much you have won!)

So you hand over your ticket to the store clerk who checks the ticket for you, and “bing”, you are indeed a winner. He hands back your winning ticket plus a small amount of cash.

You walk away content. You won.

But you’ve just been ripped off.

Now the reality is, this dishonest store clerk just switched your ticket for another one. Why? Because his machine told him you won a big prize, which he is going to claim for himself once you leave the shop.

Scratcher scams

The Fake Scratcher Scan Scam

Another even simpler way this can work is if YOU don’t even bother to check the ticket at all.

Hang around near the lottery counter in any sizeable retailer and you will see this time and time again. Regular scratchers players will often just scratch off the barcode, not even the game panels. Then just hand the ticket back to the retailer to find out if they won.

NOTE: for those that don’t know, the retailer just scans the hidden barcode into their lottery terminal to find out if it is a winner or not.

This leaves you completely open to being scammed.

All a dishonest retailer has to do is pretend to scan your ticket. Then say “sorry dude, not a winner this time”, and throw the ticket in the trash. You walk out none the wiser, and they dig the ticket out of the waste bin and either claim it later themselves or get a friend to claim it.

One of the reasons lottery terminals play a winners chime is to try and prevent this kind of scam.

But it’s not hard to do. Many lottery terminals are hidden behind counters where they are hard to see. And it’s really not difficult for someone to put their thumb over the barcode so it won’t scan properly.

How Rare Is All This?

It’s impossible to say. The lottery companies themselves are very aware of it and are working hard to prevent it.

But they only investigate big prize winners as a matter of course. They can’t possibly investigate all the millions of small prizes that are won every single week. So it’s actually even more likely to happen for small wins where the retailer can simply say “sorry, no win this time” and happily claim your prize.

So How Do You Protect Yourself?

It’s actually really simple.

1. Always sign the back of EVERY ticket as soon as you buy it.
2. Check lottery tickets yourself.
3. Or simply play the lottery online instead.

By all means use a scanner to check for a winning ticket. But if it is a winner, go online or find a newspaper with the lottery results to check which prize you actually won.

And if you’re buying scratchers then DO actually play them as intended. Most of the fun with scratch-off tickets is in actually playing them! So don’t just hand it over – play the game, and see if you won. If you’re not sure how the game works, then either choose a different one or get it explained to you before you play it.

Have you been caught out by something like this? Please do add your story in the comments below to help warn other people.

UPDATE: This is on the increase – please warn friends and family how to protect themselves. Hit the Like button below and Share this on Facebook.

P.S. If you live in the USA, and play the scratch-off tickets, I also strongly recommend you get Dave’s service here. It’s crazy cheap and will update you every week with the tickets that have the best chance of winning for your state. Don’t play without it!

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Categories: Lottery Law · Lottery Tips · Lottery Winners

155 Comments so far ↓

  • Daniel

    Always check your tickets yourself. Just the other day I had a winning ticket from Mega Millions, it was only 10$. But when I went to cash it out for more tickets the agent said it was only a winner for 2$. I asked for the self checker and he said it was broke. I then went somewhere else and cashed it for 10$, so that goes to show not to just trust the agents.

  • Linwood Lyons

    Hi, I have a 5$ ticket and won my 5$ back, that’s it. But when I take it to the retailer it said ‘congratulations see NC lottery’ and gives it back… Why didn’t I get my 5$ if that’s all that I won on the ticket?

    • Josef

      Hi, I also had a similar problem. I have 2 scratch tickets which are both $50 winners. However when I try to cash them all I receive is a receipt saying “CLAIM AT LOTTERY”, then beneath “Congratulations you are a Winner”. I tried at two separate locations and received the same message. In the past I had no problems cashing in tickets worth more than $50 but why all of a sudden this time I need to visit a lottery office in order to claim my money?

  • Grace

    Take it to your lottery office. Fill in your name on the back so no-one can take it.

  • Emily Garza

    I just brought 4 of my scratch tickets to self serve on 6th and main, and one of my tickets was a winner. I had won $77 and the old lady said they all were no good and didn’t give me my money.

  • Julie Tran

    I went into the local Dutton gas station in Michigan earlier this week to check my tickets. One I scanned a few times said ‘check retailer’, even between tickets, it was in good condition. I had the clerk check it. He scanned it and he said it’s not a winner, but he seemed hesitant and didn’t give me back my ticket, so I couldn’t enter it into the second chance draw to win online. I was in a rush and had to get my son to the babysitter and to work so I don’t even know if I won or not.

    • Grace

      Write your name on the back of the ticket when you BUY it! That way no one else can cash it in.
      My guess is – you got scammed. Avoid that store in the future.

  • Jonathan Kochan

    I bought four consecutive mystery crossword puzzle tickets of the 10 dollar variety. I scanned all for of them. 3 were non winners and the fourth gave me an 800 number to call. I was unsure about this, so took the fourth ticket to a few more self scanning machines. It came up the same way each time. Any ideas what this could mean? Thanks.

  • Bradley Stubbings

    I played a CA lotto scratcher and won $4. It scanned at the store and says to file a claim form. Why for a $4 winner?

  • Amanda

    I bought a Powerball ticket but did not have any lucky numbers, do I still need to have it scanned?

    • LG

      I recommend double checking every ticket. There are numerous cases of the wrong results being published in newspapers, or broadcast on TV. And cases where lottery companies have published the wrong results on their websites (they fix it quickly, but many people check right after the draw). It’s also easy to miss a number when manually checking, or even check against the wrong results (old newspaper or even the wrong game!).

      There have even been cases where the ticket scanner machines have been incorrectly reporting losing tickets for short periods of time. So I recommend manually checking AND using the scanners for every ticket.

  • Debi

    Do I need to hold on to lottery tickets for second chance drawing if I scanned them in?

    • LG

      It may not be required (depends on the terms & conditions of that lottery company) – but I strongly recommend you keep them anyway, at least for a few weeks after the 2nd chance draw has been done.

  • Elyse

    I have a question. I decided to scan my scratcher that wasn’t a winner just for kicks and it said “file a claim” so then I took it to the cashier and same thing. So shouldn’t it just say ” non-winner”?? I triple checked the scratcher I’m pretty sure it’s not a winner so why would it say file a claim? Error? Or what?!

    • LG

      It certainly could be an error – I’d try scanning it again just in case it was only a temporary thing.

      Or you could have won something. Some tickets are much easier to understand the rules than others (which is why winning tickets do get thrown away all the time!).

      If it still comes up as file claim, the only way to know for sure is to claim. It’s a nuisance, but if it then turns out to be a losing ticket then I think it would be reasonable to ask for a couple of free tickets for the hassle of making you claim unnecessarily 🙂

    • Gracie Shellito

      Are there any code letters near the bottom such as T-N-E or O-N-E? Most scratchers have the amount won at the bottom.
      T-N-E would stand for ten dollars and O-N-E stands for one dollar. I’ve never seen one for anything higher than twenty so don’t know which letters they use.

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