Sunday April 21, 2013 : ANOTHER LOTTERY PAY-OUT SCAM?
Brothers allegedly attempted to defraud ticket holder on a $5 million scratch-off
An alleged lottery ticket fraud dating back to 2006 and involving $5 million in prize money has surfaced in Syracuse, New York according to a report in the publication Syracuse.com.
The case involves two brothers from central New York who claimed a $5 million lottery ticket sold at their family's convenience store and who have subsequently been accused of scamming the winning ticket from a customer.
Andy Ashkar (34) and Nayel Ashkar (36) stand accused of second-degree attempted grand larceny and fourth-degree conspiracy. Andy Ashkar also was charged with first-degree criminal possession of stolen property.
The legitimate buyer and owner of the disputed lottery scratch-off ticket is a 49-year-old married father of two who came forward after suspicious lottery security officials trying to find the true winner told the story of the brothers' win to a Syracuse newspaper.
He had been fooled into giving up the winning scratch-off ticket when he went to cash it at a convenience store in October 2006, he said.
At the time he thought that the win was worth $5,000 despite a friend telling him it was a $5 million windfall.
On attempting to cash-in the ticket, he was allegedly told by Andy Ashcar that he had won $5,000. Ashcar proposed that in order to avoid tax and other complications, the ticket owner should accept $4,000 in cash from him and hand over the ticket. Astonishingly he did so.
The Ashcars are nothing if not patient, and waited for five years before approaching the lottery and attempting to claim the $5 million the ticket was really worth, saying that they had purchased the ticket at their parent's store and had delayed claiming until just before the ticket expired in order not to influence upcoming family nuptials.
The lottery routinely scrutinises large wins, and security officials became suspicious of the Ashcars’ story, in part triggered when the brothers were prepared to take a smaller amount of prize money to avoid publicity.
Local police were called in and an investigation subsequently unearthed the real owner and the circumstances surrounding the surrender of the ticket.
The owner, a city maintenance worker, pressed charges in an attempt to recover the money, which is due annually in installments of $250,000 over 20 years from the lottery. Officials said that, given the six year lapse, the real owner could be due $1.5 million right away.
The Ashkars, both employed as managers at area auto dealerships, have pleaded not guilty and have legal representation. Their lawyer claims that they legitimately received the ticket and own it.
This week the duo elected to have a judge rule on their case rather than a jury.
“I feel much better having it in the hands of someone who is trained legally, who knows the law and knows how to apply the law,” the defence attorney for one of the men told The Post-Standard newspaper. “Everything is going to be based upon the facts and not on emotion. Juries tend to work on emotion, and everybody on a jury in this case would have a predisposition.”