Posted: Oct 19, 2012 10:42 AM by Russell Jones, Kristy Davis
Updated: Oct 19, 2012 10:42 AM
BATON ROUGE - A Louisiana man almost lost his lottery winnings when someone else took his ticket and tried to claim it was theirs.
Jerry Firth told News 2 after a recent lottery drawing he'd asked a friend of his to look at the ticket and see if he'd won anything. Turns out, he had: the ticket matched enough numbers to be worth $2,300.
That's when Louisiana Lottery officials said the "friend", Sherrie Gomez, signed her name in black marker over Firth's name on the ticket and tried to claim it as her own.
"She tried to tell me that she was doing it as a surprise," Firth told News 2.
What kept this from turning into a full-blown horror story? Good eyes, according to Kelly Spell with the Louisiana Lottery.
"Anytime there's an alteration on the back of a ticket in the signature area like that, there's an immediate red flag," she said.
Spell also says attempts to forge or rewrite over signatures on winning lottery tickets aren't all that rare.
"The last case we had similar to this one, we had a $10,000 MegaMillions prize, and that was in May," she said.
Both attempts were thwarted by high-tech imaging, which was able to look at both signatures. Without it, Jerry wouldn't have gotten his winnings, which he says he really needed.
"Pay bills," he said, "I mean it's already spent."
Firth said he's learned some important lessons from the experience, and he wants to make sure it's passed along.
"I learned to let anybody know, if you buy a Powerball ticket, lotto, any of them... soon as you get it sign your ticket," he said, "She just would have gotten away with it if I wouldn't have signed the ticket."
Lottery officials turned the case over to the Baton Rouge Police, who are investigating.