NORTH POINT, Md. (WJZ)—Lottery lies. A Baltimore County woman stands accused of trying to scam lottery ticket winners out of their money and keeping it for herself.
Derek Valcourt explains how she did it and how she was caught.
Lottery investigators routinely go undercover to make sure lottery stores aren’t cheating the system. This time it was the investigators who hit the jackpot.
Melissa Stone is under arrest in what police describe as a lottery scam. The 39-year-old owner of Ross Liquors in the North Point area of Baltimore County was caught in an undercover sting by lottery investigators.
She is accused of lying to a winning scratch-off ticket holder, telling him the ticket was a loser so she could profit.
“This is outrageous,” said Eric Wheeler. “They got a winner and she’s taking the winner for herself and cashing the ticket. Unbelievable. She should be put in jail.”
Lottery officials began conducting routine compliance checks last February. Since then, they’ve gone undercover 663 times to make sure clerks operating lottery machines are honest.
They’ve uncovered 12 violations so far. Melissa Stone’s case is the biggest.
The case blew wide open when an undercover investigator brought a $10,000 winning ticket to her store and tried to cash it in. They say Stone told the investigator it was not a winner and instead she brought the ticket to lottery headquarters and tried to cash it in herself.
“At that point lottery officials approached Baltimore County police detectives,” said Lt. Robert McCullough, Baltimore County Police.
County police arrested Stone and charged her with grand theft.
It’s a shock to those who frequent her North Point store.
“She’s a really nice woman. I don’t think she would do something like that,” said Angel Allen, who says she’s collected her lottery ticket winnings from the store often. “She always gives me my money.”
“It’s fraud. She should be locked up. Stealing money. I would be locked up for it. I think she should be locked up for it. Sent to jail,” said Michael Kelly.
Lottery officials admit it’s impossible to tell how many customers — if any — might have fallen victim to the scam since smaller winning tickets under $600 can be paid out by the clerk right at the store. That’s why they do these compliance checks.
Stone’s lottery license has been suspended. She’s been released from jail while awaiting trial on grand theft charges.