Pennsylvania to Address Potential State Lottery Fraud

Eugene DePasquale, the auditor general for Pennsylvania, will be taking a closer look at potential lottery fraud in the Keystone State.

Pennsylvania’s Auditor to Crack Down on Lottery Fraud

Pennsylvania’s lottery has been churning out winners in droves and Eugene DePasquale, Pennsylvania’s auditor general, is now determined to get to the bottom of the story. Mr. DePasquale has every reason to be wary.

Most blatant of all recent cases of lottery fraud, was Clarence Jones‘, a Massachusetts resident, who has won 7,300 tickets playing the MI State Lottery. Between 2000 and 2016, Pennsylvania also produced around 200 winners, each of whom has won 50 prize pools worth at least $600. Jones own share of the pie included winning tickets estimated at $6.3 million.

He was given a two-year sentence for leading a multi-million-dollar lottery scheme. Interestingly, it was argued that Mr. Jones had lost all of his won money on other gambling activities, such as horse races, casinos, and cards.

The history of lotteries in the United States is complicated and sensitive. Since lottery revenue provides support for the public purse, and specifically retirement funds, auditors have been strict about upholding standards.

In 1980, a grand scheme with weighed Ping-Pong balls was uncovered, after some of the conspirators didn’t get a cut of the share. Corruption in lotteries has been on record since at least 1837 and well across the United States. 

The Office of the Auditor General will now last a new investigation, as outlined by Mr. DePasquale in an official statement:

“Last fiscal year, Pennsylvania Lottery players bought $4.5 billion in games and claimed more than $2.9 billion in prizes. Seniors, lottery players and the general public deserve to know if every dollar of those prizes was claimed in accordance with the law.”

Big Wins Whet Criminal Appetite

Traditionally, the people involved in lottery fraud could be criminal organizations, random citizens or corrupt retailers running a larger scheme and targeting winning tickets.

The latest investigation has been prompted by a number of media reports about systematic syphoning off of state lottery funds through targeting tickets.

Mr. DePasquale cited the case of Jones and assured that he also wanted to guarantee the safety of people participating in PA’s lottery. “Some lotteries have taken major steps to crack down on suspected fraudulent claims,” Mr. DePasquale explained.

There have been multiple reports of identic winning numbers across state borders generated within months, weeks and sometimes even days of each other.

Of Sex and Money

All excessive winners will be included in a special report prepared by the Pennsylvania’s Department of Revenue. The investigation will also try to establish whether the Pennsylvania State Lottery has been doing enough to prevent fraud from happening in the first place.

Another thing on Mr. DePasquale’s agenda is to have a closer look into the Department of Revenue’s sexual harassment policy as in 2016 alone, $900,000 had to be paid in settlement cases.

Games such as Mega Millions often breaks over $450 million in total prize money, so it might be wise to take lottery fraud seriously.  

Mr. DePasquale looks like the right man for the job.

Image credit: The Center Square.

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