Lottery Scratcher Scams:
How To Avoid Getting Caught Out
There's something sneaky I want to make sure you guys are aware of.
In the industry it's called 'pinning', and it can mean you miss out on a big winner without ever knowing about it.
There's a weak point in the way scratch-off tickets are claimed. You have to scratch a panel to reveal a barcode. It's that barcode that has to be scanned to tell if the ticket is a winner or not.
This is a different barcode to the one you can see before you start scratching anything. It's hidden and has to be scratched to be seen. For a good reason - because this is the security measure to stop a dodgy assistant or store owner from checking all the tickets and pulling out the winning ones!
Sounds good so far... except...
Well, some 'smart cookie' figured out you don't need to see much of a barcode to be able to scan it!
Barcodes are a series of vertical lines. But it's the thickness of the lines and the thickness of the spaces between them that 'decode' into a serial number. The only reason barcodes are as tall as they are is to make them a big and easy target for scanner machines.
Here's what the dodgy assistants figure out.
If you take a ruler and a pin (hence the name 'pinning'), you can remove a thin line of the scratch material. Just enough so that with careful aim you can scan the ticket to see if it's a winner. While still leaving the ticket looking unused!
They then keep the winners (they just buy them - no rule against that bit). But then sell you the losers..!
YES - lottery scratch off scams are a criminal offence. And yes, the lottery companies are aware of it. Anyone caught doing this will end up in serious trouble.
But I want you to know about it so you don't caught out!
So there are 2 danger signs to be very aware of:-
- Never buy a 'loose' ticket that just appears from under the counter. Watch the assistant detach your ticket fresh from the roll in front of you.
- Inspect each ticket you buy closely BEFORE you walk away. Make sure there is no damage at all to the scratch surface. If there is, ask for a replacement ticket.
I'd also recommend you always report anything suspicious that happens when buying tickets or claiming winnings. Dishonest sellers are rare but they do exist.
Lottery companies take lottery scratch card scams VERY seriously. Phone them and report the store to the security department. They will investigate and take major action if they find anything dodgy going on.