The Iowa Lottery is reminding customers to sign the back of their tickets after two convenience store clerks in Wisconsin were charged with stealing winning tickets. The charges followed a sting operation by state agents to see if retailers were pocketing the tickets people brought in for verification.
Iowa Lottery vice president, Mary Neubauer, says there have been similar undercover operations in this state and so far no fraud has been uncovered. However she says customers should still protect themselves by signing tickets before having them checked.
Neubauer says the moment that you sign the ticket it identifies the ticket as belonging to you. So then if you were to win a big prize and somehow the ticket got out of your possession when you’re name is on the back someone else isn’t going to be able to go in and claim it because they don’t have the same name as you. The attempted theft charges filed in Wisconsin came just days before three convenience store employees in Washington were convicted of fraud in another lottery sting.
“Undercover agents will go in with winning tickets. Sometimes they’re tickets for small amounts for 30 or 50 dollars, sometimes they’re tickets for large amounts like five thousand or more,” Neubauer explains, “they’ll go in with the tickets, they’ll present them to the clerk just like they’re a customer and they just wait to see what happens. Here in Iowa we’ve been doing that same thing, and so far the tickets have all been returned.”
The Iowa Lottery added the requirement that customers sign tickets after the state ombudsman raised concerns about the security of Iowa tickets following problems in Canada. Neubauer encourages customers to take another step to protect themselves by checking numbers on-line or in the newspaper to see if they have the winning numbers.