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Mystery $75,000 Calif. lottery winner was undercover investigator

Lottery spokesman Russell Lopez said the Chevron station in Palmdale is being probed after the investigator was given $75 for a scratch-off ticket worth $75,000.

By Ben Hooper
A California lottery spokesman said a scratch-off winner given only $75 for a $75,000-winning ticket was actually an undercover inspector. File photo by jcjgphotography/Shutterstock
A California lottery spokesman said a scratch-off winner given only $75 for a $75,000-winning ticket was actually an undercover inspector. File photo by jcjgphotography/Shutterstock

PALMDALE, Calif., May 5 (UPI) -- A California lottery spokesman said a scratch-off winner given only $75 for a $75,000-winning ticket was actually an undercover inspector.

Shamsun Islam, manager of the Chevron gas station in Palmdale, released surveillance camera footage of a scratch-off customer who was given only $75 for a winning ticket worth $75,000 in the hopes of identifying the winner, but California Lottery spokesman Russell Lopez revealed the man in the video is actually an undercover lottery inspector.

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The ticket was brought into the store March 25.

"Since the store held onto the ticket, it appears the ticket was mishandled," Lopez told KTLA-TV. "We are currently investigating this case."

Islam said she contacted lottery officials after the incident and was told someone would be coming by to pick up the ticket, but no one ever came. She said she decided to release the camera footage to the media after several weeks passed with no word from lottery officials.

Islam said the clerk informed her of the mistake shortly after the undercover investigator left the store.

"I know my guy, he's a really, really honest person. He would never do anything wrong," she told the Los Angeles Times. "He made a mistake. He realized after the guy left."

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Lopez said investigators are trying to determine whether the clerk's actions were intentional or part of an attempt to collect the prize money illegally.

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