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Laurelton scam victim lands his owed $14M

Laurelton scam victim lands his owed $14M
Milledge McCassell shows off his long-awaited Lotto prize. Photo courtesy of NY Lottery
By Ivan Pereira

A Laurelton senior citizen is now a millionaire following an investigation into a Lotto ticket vendor who nearly scammed him out of his winnings last month, the state Lottery Division said.

Milledge McCassell was finally awarded his $14 million jackpot Friday for the Aug. 25 Lotto drawing. McCassell, 72, said he initially took his ticket to get checked at the Dynasty Deli & Grocery at 155-27 Jamaica Ave. the day after the drawing, but one of the clerks claimed to not be able to locate the unsigned winning ticket after the retired transit worker gave it to them for confirmation.

“I knew it was a big prize winner,” the sole winner of the jackpot said in a statement. “I just didn’t know how much.”

After talking with the store’s owners to try to get the ticket back, McCassell left empty-handed, but did not give up. He went to another convenience store to contact the state and filed a complaint against the deli.

Lotto officials and state police immediately went to Dynasty and interviewed clerks as well as went through the store’s computers, according to state Lottery Director Gordon Medenica. The lottery has updated its ticket tracking system to track all of its game tickets and when it scanned the machines at the deli, investigators found that the clerk’s claims of the missing ticket were false.

“The combination of old-fashioned detective work and advanced ticket safety features built into our new computer system made it very clear to us early on that someone had a $14 [million] motive to try to scam Mr. McCassell out of his jackpot prize,” Medenica said in a statement. “We are extremely pleased our technology performed as it was designed and we were able to easily detect and prevent this attempted theft.”

Dynasty was stripped of its lottery license and had its ticket machines and instant games removed, according to Medenica. The case has also been referred to the Queens district attorney’s office.

The lottery director said the case should serve as an example to both retailers and customers on following the rules and procedures of Lotto games.

“Lottery tickets are bearer instruments, just like paper money. Customers are their own first line of defense against would-be prize scammers. You can safeguard your prize, whether it’s $14 or $14 million, by simply signing your ticket,” he said.

McCassell, in the meantime, said he is grateful his Lotto story ended happily.

“It was a long, panic-filled day, but I got my ticket back. Now I’m anxious to get my money,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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