PALMDALE, CA -- A man who cashed in his lottery ticket at a Palmdale gas station and was given thousands of dollars short of his winnings turned out to be an undercover California Lottery agent.
The California Lottery routinely uses undercover agents to sting dishonest retailers. They are now investigating whether the wrong payout was an honest mistake.
Shamsun Hahar Islam, the Palmdale gas station manager, said the cashier misread the numbers on the machine and gave the man $75 instead of $75,000. The man just took his money and left, and that's when the cashier realized his mistake. The cashier called Islam right away.
The incident happened on March 25, and the agent was sent to the gas station with a dummy winning ticket to see if the store was in compliance with lottery rules and regulations.
Islam said she was shocked to learn the man was an agent, but she was glad that media outlets were able to show that her store did nothing wrong.
She said she contacted the California Lottery as soon as her cashier informed her of the mistake. She hopes that the store passes the test.
Lottery officials said while most businesses are honest, there are a few that cheat winners and that is why there are undercover agents.
Russ Lopez, California Lottery deputy director, said he isn't sure the store followed all the rules because the cashier failed to hand the agent a validation slip along with the money from the winning ticket that would have confirmed the $75,000 payout.
"We have a lot more questions than answers. A lot of red flags have been raised and we are looking into whether this was an honest mistake or not," Lopez said.
But officials also said they will reserve passing judgement on the store until their investigation is complete within the next few weeks.
Man in lotto ticket mishap turns out to be undercover California Lottery agent