A store clerk from Fort Myers, Florida, USA was this week caught trying to scam a customer out of a Florida lottery ticket worth hundreds of dollars – giving him $5 in return.
When you hand a winning lottery ticket over to a store clerk to get checked, do you trust that they will tell you when you have a big winner, or do you wonder if they’ll keep it for themselves? That’s exactly what a store clerk in Fort Myers did this week, when a customer handed over a ticket worth $600 and was handed $5 in prize money. Fortunately, there have been a few recent Florida lottery winners, including a scratch off millionaire from St Petersburg who won $1 million, and a Powerball winner from Lauderhill, who took home $80 million but didn’t plan to make any changes.
Crystelle Yvette Baton, an employee at Winn-Dixie Liquors, was arrested for larceny grand theft as she was accused of keeping the $600 prize money and giving the customer $5 from her own wallet instead. However, unfortunately for Baton, the man wasn’t actually a customer, he was an undercover agent working for the Florida Lottery Commission, employed to ensure that lottery employees play the games properly. One example of the game played properly was when a Florida couple won $100,000 on a Powerball ticket bought in Maryland.
When Ms Baton scanned the man’s Florida lottery ticket and realized how much it was worth, she gave him $5 and kept the winning ticket for herself, telling the customer that the $5 was his prize money. Later in the day the agent returned to the store to arrest Ms Baton, and found the $600 lottery ticket hidden in her notebook. A lottery player from Indianapolis was duped out of thousands of dollars because of a lottery scam, while a store worker from Coventry, England, was arrested for stealing winning National Lottery scratch off tickets worth $13,000.
A spokesperson for the Florida Lottery Commission said that random visits are often made to check up on lottery sellers and make sure that these kinds of things don’t happen.
“Anyone that is working in a customer service job, you think that they are doing what is in your best interest,” said a regular customer of the Winn-Dixie store in Fort Myers. “I would be very upset if someone took that from me.” The store itself released a statement announcing that the employee’s contract has been terminated.