The Iowa Lottery’s TouchPlay machines have raised a controversy around the state because of their similarity to slot machines. Now, there may a problem with the tickets the machines dispense.
Des Moines Police Sergeant Vince Valdez says they’re investigating a man who cashed in a counterfeit TouchPlay ticket at 12 stores in and around the city. He says it was originally a winning ticket and the man altered it so he could keep cashing in on the one ticket.
Valdez says surveillance video shows the same man at the stores cashing the ticket. The man is described as being in his late 20’s to 30’s, with short dark hair. He wore glasses and a trenchcoat. Valdez say they don’t know exactly what he did, but there’s a possibility the man took the ticket home and scanned it. He says the original ticket the man bought was the template to make all the other copies. Valdez says his department has contacted Lottery officials about the problem. Valdez says one of the detectives handling the case talked with the Lottery and Lottery officials said they would be talking with the employees about watching for counterfeit tickets and doing a better job of checking I-D’s when tickets are cashed. Valdez says the thief got nearly $2,900 from the 12 convenience stores where he cashed in the counterfeit tickets.
Iowa Lottery spokesperson Mary Neubauer says forgery is always a problem the Lottery faces. Neubauer says whenever they introduce a new product there are people who try to beat the system. She says on the first day of sales of lottery tickets in 1985 someone came in and tried to cash a fake $5,000 ticket and was arrested.
Neubauer says TouchPlay tickets have the address of the store where they were bought printed on the ticket as a security measure. Neubauer says if the person isn’t taking the ticket to the Iowa Lottery headquarters to cash it in, then they must take it to the store where they bought the ticket. “In a lot of these instances it is an employee education matter to make sure that they are looking at the ticket and making sure that the name and address on the ticket matches up with the name and address of the store where they are working,” she says.
Neubauer says they’re also offering other security tips to stores. Lottery officials also suggest that clerks have the customer sign the back of every TouchPlay and lottery ticket and present an I-D. Neubauer says that’s something they’re considering making a permanent part of the claim process. Neubauer says there was another case of counterfeit TouchPlay tickets in Cedar Rapids, and she says police have already arrested a suspect in the case.