Imagine you have bought a lottery ticket and when you scratch it, you find you are a winner. And not just any winner, a $1 million winner. Police had to arrest the owner of a deli in Long Island and his son recently for scamming a customer, who had just that lucky lottery number combination. They are now paying for that scam.
Reportedly Nassau County police charged Nabil and Karim Jaghab, the deli owner and his son, on Saturday for the scam.
The not-so-lucky customer was a 34 year old man who doesn’t speak English. On Thursday the man visited the deli in Hempstead and bought a scratch card.
On scratching off the card, the man found he was a lucky winner and immediately handed it over to the deli owner’s son, Karim Jaghab, 26, to claim his winnings.
The ticket was worth a $1 million prize to the lucky winner, but the deli store owner’s son handed over $1,000 in cash and retained the lucky ticket.
The customer initially accepted the $1,000, but later felt a little suspicious about the issue and on Friday he returned to the Peninsula Deli and Grocery. According to police, what happened next was that Jaghab and his father, 57 year old Nabil Jaghab, then tried to fob him off with $10,000 and told him that he had better not go to the police.
The customer wasn’t taking any of that and he did, indeed, go to the police, who determined that he had actually won the $1 million jackpot, not $1,000 or $10,000. What followed was the arrest of the deli owner and his son for the lottery scam.
The deli owner and his son were both arraigned on charges of grand larceny on Saturday and each of them was ordered held on $7,500 bond.
Apparently their attorney told the court that the whole thing had been a simple mistake with the payout from the lottery machine.
It seems these tactics are nothing new. Something similar happened in Suffolk County this year when gas station clerks scammed a customer out of $74,892 winnings on a lottery ticket. In that case, the clerks handed the man $774 and, similar to the Jaghab case, the customer didn’t speak English.
Probably the worst incident of this kind happened back in 2006, when one unlucky New York man was scammed out of $5 million. In that case, Robert Miles of Syracuse bought his winning ticket at a local convenience store. When finding he had the lucky numbers and trying to claim his winnings, the store owner’s two sons, Andy and Nayel Ashkar managed to convince him that he had only won $5,000 and in fact only paid him $4,000.
The brothers then retained the lottery ticket and waited until 2012 to claim the huge jackpot. The long delay in claiming the winnings alerted lottery officials and they investigated the matter. They found it a little suspicious that not only had the ticket been sold at a market owned the brothers’ parents, but also that they had taken so long to claim.
Once the lottery officials had announced that the Ashkar brothers had the winning ticket, Miles came forward and testified at their hearing. He said that he had let the ticket slide because at the time he was addicted to crack cocaine and was confused, but now he is the lucky owner of the winnings and the Ashkar brothers have been found guilty of possessing stolen property.
So after police arrest this particular deli owner and his son for the $1 million lottery scam, no doubt customers will be more alert and careful when buying a winning scratch card.
By Anne Sewell