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News9 Special Assignment: Lottery Investigators

Updated: Tuesday, July 15 2014, 01:35 PM EDT

wtov9.com
The Ohio Lottery Commission offers customers a wide variety of instant games to play at about 9,000 retail locations across the state.
But before the tickets ever hit circulation, the game is rigorously tested to make sure you and the state aren't on the losing end.
From $2 to $5 to $10, no matter how much you spend on that scratch off ticket, you always want to feel like you have a fair shot to win. You want to be certain that the ticket is valid and that the business you bought it from is playing by the rules.
The lottery commission does its best to monitor the games, but there are still those who will stop at nothing to make a buck by cheating the system.
In order to ensure that they stay ahead of the curve, officials in the state of Ohio have recruited the very best -- the men and women of the questioned documents unit who serve Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
"What we do is we check on them," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said. "We make sure that when they produce something, it's what they say it is and we tell the state of Ohio that it can't be tampered with. We take them on and our folks are pretty good at finding ways around the system. You figure if we can do it then, some con artists or crook can do it too."
Over the years, those con artists have tried everything.
"This says 1700, 3 so in 30 seconds," Forensic scientist Jessica Toms said. "I could tell I had a winning ticket after 30 seconds that chemical evaporates and you can't tell you have a winning ticket."
"Close-up you can see it's kind of a cut and paste job. So they took a number off another ticket and cut it paste it on another ticket."
The most common way to cheat is distinguishing between a winning or losing ticket without scratching. It's a method that has scientists taking the games through just about everything.
"We've got tickets that are running in a griddle, sitting in water, a humidity chamber, (we have) tickets in our freezer." Toms said.
Even with freezing, heating, and grilling, scammers find a way.
That's why tickets come back and even the simplest of things are analyzed.
"People want to make sure that it's a fair game," DeWine said. "When someone can scam the system, that is taking away money from everybody else."
There are 78 different instant lottery games in Ohio and every single one has been put through each series of tests.
If you live in West Virginia, don't worry. It also has quality assurance testing.

News9 Special Assignment: Lottery Investigators


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