The recent story about a man who gave away a $4 million winning Massachusetts Lottery ticket is still the talk of the town more than a week after veteran reporter Curt Brown broke the thing in the Standard-Times.

What makes the story so intriguing, besides the fact that the man willingly gave the ticket away for $3,600, is that there is so much we don't know about what happened and that creates opportunities for folks to be amateur sleuths and try to figure it all out. There are as many theories about what might have happened as there are dollar signs attached to the $4 million ticket. 

So, the dude says he bought the ticket and when he scratched it thought he'd won $4,000. He reads or speaks no English. He then says he sought out a woman known for cashing in winning tickets for a percentage of the winnings. In this case, the fee was $200 and the winner said he tipped her another $200. His take: $3,600.

The ticket was worth $4 million.

Maybe not so surprisingly, the woman gives a $4 million winning ticket to her friend just a few days later and the pair agrees to split the jackpot. The woman claims she doesn't know the guy and has never cashed in tickets for anyone. 

Still to be determined:

  • Why would anyone give a winning lottery ticket to a stranger to cash in for them rather than bring it to a licensed lottery agent themselves?
  • Was the man attempting to avoid paying taxes?
  • Is the man illegally in the country?
  • Why would anyone agree to cash in a ticket for someone else for $200 when the taxes due would be four times that amount?
  • Did the woman commit a crime if she did cash in the man's ticket without telling him the actual value of the prize?
  • Is it technically a sale if a person gives another person a winning lottery ticket in exchange for cash and is the resale of lottery tickets legal in Massachusetts?
  • Can the Massachusetts Lottery void the ticket – and should it?

So many questions still must be resolved. The man has filed a civil suit claiming the woman and her friend committed fraud against him.

I believe the man was attempting to avoid paying taxes on what he thought was a $4,000 hit and to him, the $400 he gave to the ticket-casher was a worthwhile investment. I believe she fully understood the value of the ticket and gave the man the amount of money he requested for it. Do I believe she took advantage of his stupidity? Yes. But I do not believe what she did was illegal.

Karma is – well, you know. He tried to scam the system and was scammed himself in the process. Chalk it up to experience.

I would love to hear your theories about what actually happened and how it should all be resolved.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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