Prosecutor: Three clerks tried to steal winning Kentucky lottery tickets

Posted at 11:56 PM, Feb 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-01 01:30:20-05

The unofficial motto of lotteries nationwide — “You can’t win if you don’t play” — may need a slight addendum. You also can’t win if you’re trusting a dishonest person to tell you the results.

That’s just what happened when Kentucky Lottery “integrity testers” visited 60 separate retailers and, claiming not to know whether their ticket was a winner, asked the clerk to scan it and see. All of the tester tickets they provided were decoys for real, high-value tickets.

Most clerks were honest: They scanned the testers’ tickets and told them correctly that they were winners.

Three weren’t.

According to court documents, gas station workers Indrias Joseph, Jinalben Savadara and Divyang Vyas all told testers the tickets were no good — then tried to keep them for themselves.

A grand jury on Thursday indicted all three men on felony charges of providing false information to a lottery investigator and of influencing the winning of a lottery prize through coercion, fraud, deception or tampering with lottery equipment or materials. The latter charge can come with a sentence of up to 20 years.

“Store clerks who do not follow Kentucky Lottery policies cheat not only individual winners and the Kentucky Lottery but the people of the Commonwealth as well,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Thomas B. Wine said in a news release.

Officials said they believed cases of fraud were rare but shared a few tips for anyone worried about being the victim of a dishonest clerk:

  • Sign the back of your ticket before someone scans it.
  • Use ticket-scanning terminals that you can operate yourself.
  • Download the Kentucky Lottery app.
  • Ask for your ticket back and get rid of it yourself after the clerk scans it.