Man charged with lottery fraud after stealing winning ticket, deputies say

Updated:

Loading

CHESTER, S.C. - A Chester woman said she'll keep her mouth shut next time she wins money on a scratch-off lottery game.

The woman, who didn't want to be identified, told Channel 9 she bought a scratch-off card last month at Danny's Food Mart on Highway 9 west of Chester.

The card was a $500 winner. The woman started telling friends about her winnings, including a man she thought was trustworthy.

She got a phone call at work, put the scratch-off card down for a moment, and it was gone when she came back.

"We looked and looked for it, and couldn't find it," she said. "Luckily I called the lottery so they could put a stop on it."

She forgot to sign the back of the lottery card, which is a security step for a winning ticket. However, her quick phone call got quick results.

A day later sheriff's deputies said a man and a woman showed up at Bob's Food Mart in Richburg, and tried to cash in the winning ticket. It came up stolen so the cashier did not pay it out.

Those two suspects were seen on surveillance video inside the store, and a sheriff's detective happened to know them by name. They told deputies they were only cashing in the ticket for a friend who told them his car had broken down.

Deputies said the man and woman had no idea the scratch-off card was stolen, and they aren't facing charges.

They led deputies to 28-year-old Willie Jones. He's charged with lottery fraud, and in jail on a $5,000 bond.

The victim said she's certainly learned something about how to act if she wins in a lottery game again.

"I won't show my ticket to anyone. I'm going to cash it in right there, instead of trying to save it up," she said.

Michelle Blue buys scratch-off lottery tickets at that same store, and has won $500 herself before. She said you can't be too careful, even if you're not talking about millions of dollars.

"You can't say, 'Hey, see what I won,' because someone will snatch it right out of your hand," she said.

The lottery commission is expected to grant the woman her winnings, once their investigation into the incident is finished.