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Winning $50K lottery ticket stolen from store by employee: OPP

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Two Southwestern Ontario residents face charges after police say a winning lottery ticket with a $50,000 cash prize was stolen and redeemed.

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Two Southwestern Ontario women face charges after police say a winning lottery ticket with a $50,000 cash prize was stolen and redeemed.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) alerted police on Dec. 14, 2023, to a suspicious lottery win at a retail outlet in Mitchell, OPP said Thursday.

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The winning ticket was stolen by a store employee and the $50,000 cash prize was claimed by an associate of the employee, police said.

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Police didn’t identify the retail outlet in Mitchell, a community about 20 kilometres northwest of Stratford.

A 44-year-old Mitchell woman and a 51-year-old Stratford woman are charged with fraud of more than $5,000. The Mitchell woman also is charged with theft of more than $5,000 and possession of property obtained by crime of more than $5,000, while the Stratford woman is charged with possession of stolen property of more than $5,000.

Court documents allege the Stratford woman stole a pack of lottery scratch tickets on Sept. 13, 2023, from a woman and provided “false information” to the OLG to claim a lottery ticket.

Both of the accused have been released from custody and are scheduled to appear in a Stratford court on July 8.

A Stratford resident with the same name as the accused was featured in local news reports after winning $50,000 on an instant scratch ticket bought at the Mobile gas station in Mitchell in October.

“I was playing my ticket in my car when I saw I had matched a number and saw the prize amount,” CKNX Today reported her saying. “I was convinced I scratched something wrong at first. When I showed my husband and pointed at the prize amount, he almost had a meltdown. He was so excited.”

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The woman’s photo and story wasn’t visible Thursday in a section on the OLG’s website that features winners.

An OLG spokesperson declined to say whether the woman’s story was removed from the website or confirm whether she is the same person charged, citing the ongoing police investigation.

“However, OLG has zero tolerance for illegal activities involving our lottery games,” spokesperson Tony Bitoni said in an email, noting all prize claims over $1,000 go through a review process.

“This is where we are able to determine the rightful owner of the winning ticket. It is during this process where our prize centre staff can detect any potential issues with a prize claim,” he said.

“On the rare occasion that there is a question about the rightful ownership of a winning ticket, then the prize claim undergoes further review and if needed we get the OPP . . . involved.”

The OLG provided information about the suspicious win to the OPP’s investigation and enforcement bureau that is embedded in the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

The commission regulates the province’s alcohol, gaming and horse racing sectors and cannabis retail stores. The bureau conducts criminal, provincial and regulatory investigations to ensure integrity and public safety in industries regulated by the commission, the OPP said.

dcarruthers@postmedia.com

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