Fake It ’til You Make It

Earlier this spring, a lucky resident of New Jersey won the $1.13 billion Mega Millions lottery. After taking out taxes, the grand prize got paid out in a one-time cash payment of $537.5 million. In the lead up to the big drawing, Georgia Lottery President and CEO Gretchen Corbin, lead director of the Mega Millions Consortium, said, “Lottery fever continues to spread throughout the country.”

Just as with actual fevers, apparently lottery fever can make you delirious and impact decision-making.

Kira Enders, 36, and Dakota Jones, 32, both of Defuniak Springs, Florida, apparently had a severe case of lottery fever. The couple purportedly won a million dollars from a $50 scratch-off ticket from the Florida Lottery game 500X the Cash in March.

Enders took the ticket to three stores to claim the prize, but all three told her the ticket wouldn’t scan. So, on March 1, she went directly to a Florida Lottery office in Pensacola. Lottery officials immediately designated it as a “non-winner,” as the ticket displayed obvious altercations. Enders also signed official forms at the time acknowledging that there could be legal consequences if she had tampered with a ticket.

Despite being told it was a non-winner and signing the forms, on March 7, Enders called the Florida Lottery and spoke to Special Agent Richard Pisanti to ask about the status of her winnings. Pisanti then told her to meet him on March 11 to go over some paperwork.

Enders, and her boyfriend, Jones, then drove to Pensacola to meet with Pisanti. Upon arriving, the couple was “immediately detained and separated for investigation.”

Apparently, the ticket she tried to submit to the Florida Lottery was allegedly two tickets “crudely” taped together. Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons told a local news outlet that the lottery investigators “had an individual that thought that they could crudely take two tickets and put them together and pretend as if they were a million-dollar winner.”

“Each of those tickets were ripped horizontally and then carefully pieced together to become one fraudulently altered ticket using the top half of one of the actual tickets and the bottom half of the other,” a report from the Escambia Sheriff’s Office reads. “That fraudulently altered ticket now visually shows that it is a $1 million prize winner.”

“Enders stated that the ticket was in her car and it must have fallen out because when she found it the next day, it had gotten rained on,” the report says. “Enders stated that she tried to scratch the ticket before it was dry and it started falling apart so she taped it so it wouldn’t get more ruined than it already was.”

Despite Pisanti showing Enders that the words on the back of the ticket did not match, Enders said, “What, they don’t go together?” and insisted that she just hadn’t taped the ticket correctly.

Jones, however, told investigators that he and Enders were walking down the road in DeFuniak Springs when they found both halves of the torn ticket.

Enders and Jones were released from jail on April 19, with bonds of $20,000 and $17,500, respectively, and are both due in court on May 10. Both face third-degree felony forgery charges, with a maximum of five years in state prison for each count if they are convicted. However, they are also charged with grand theft of $100,000, which is a first-degree felony and is punishable by up to 30 years in state prison.

Sounds like the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office gave the couple some tickets they wished were fake.

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Reg P. Wydeven

Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney at McCarty Law LLP
Hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps from a young age, Reg’s practice primarily consists of advising individuals on estate planning, estate settlement and elder law matters. As Reg represents clients in matters like guardianship proceedings and long-term care admissions, he feels grateful to be able to offer families thorough legal help in their time of need.

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