Clerks accused of swiping lottery winnings belonging to customers

SULTAN, Wash. – A pair of convenience store clerks are accused of defrauding Washington Lottery and their customers out of $40,000.

The two were arrested earlier this month, and now investigators are looking to see how many potential victims there could be.

Customer Ben Karles says he wonders if he should have been a lottery winner when he was first told his Washington Lottery ticket was a loser.

“You paid the money for the ticket, you played that gamble and that bolt of lightning should have hit you, but it hits them instead,” he said.

That’s exactly what Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputies say two clerks did at the AM PM convenience store along U.S. Highway 2 in Sultan.

Earlier this month they arrested a 29-year-old woman from Monroe and a 30-year-old man from Sultan, both employees at the gas station.

Investigators say the clerks told customers their winning tickets were losers and instead cashed out the winnings for themselves.

“You have confidence in these people,” said customer Lynn Graham. “You come every day to these places and it’s probably, like me, my only social interaction in a given day.”

Detectives say the woman clerk turned in seven winning tickets last year and are looking to find out what happened to six more tickets.

“Our whole business is based on the trust of the public, and maintaining our integrity so people really know they have an opportunity to win when they buy our products,” said Kristi Weeks from Washington Lottery. “We take this very seriously and we appreciate law enforcement and prosecutors for doing the same.”

The clerk’s alleged scheme unraveled when Washington Lottery sent in an undercover customer who had a winning ticket and was told it wasn’t.

The Washington Lottery says every customer has the power to make sure they aren’t scammed out of winnings.

“If you don’t sign your ticket and someone else comes into possession of that ticket, and they sign their name, it then becomes their ticket,” said Weeks. “Most stores have scanning machines where you can self-check your ticket, or you can download our app and you can scan your ticket on our app.”

The store’s license to sell lottery tickets is still in effect, said Weeks, as the store’s owner has not been implicated in the clerks’ scheme.