PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — More than three months after discovering she had a winning lottery number, A.F. is still waiting to collect her $4,000 prize. Joy turned into anger: the victim decided to report the embezzlement to the police after it turned out that the lottery office has a new owner who does not feel obliged to pay out the money.
The winning number 1668 for the New York game of You & i 2 lottery had only cost her one dollar. F. couldn’t believe her luck when she saw the lottery report on August 19, 2023, and discovered that she had won $4,000.
The winning ticket, together with a printout of a series of WhatsApp conversations, is now in a file with the police fraud department. The report was recorded by a member of the Anti-Fraud Team of St. Maarten Police Force KPSM. The preamble to the police complaint states: Embezzlement. Perpetrators known.
Lottery office You & i 2 had three owners: the man T., his wife C. and her brother A. The victim knows the three owners personally because she worked for them as a lottery seller. “Not under contract, I got commission,” the woman told police, emphasizing that she was allowed to play the lottery because she was not a permanent employee of the company. “Nowhere in my contract does it say that I am not allowed to buy lottery tickets.”
On August 20, 2023, a day after the lottery draw, director-owner T. told her that he would transfer the money, the woman told police. “But he said it would take some days.”
Three weeks later, on September 13, 2023, T. insisted that he had not forgotten about transferring the money. According to the police report, he claimed he had already given the $4,000 to the office manager, together with the biweekly allowances for salespersons, and T. had told the lottery winner that that manager had run off with the money.
“T. told me that the new owners of the lottery office know about this, and that they are responsible for paying me the $4,000,” said the woman, who was shocked by the news that the company had a new owner. The woman asked the owner why he did not go to the police to report that the money was stolen. He replied that the police
would do nothing for him, the woman recalled. “Foolishness. How is it possible that he is afraid to file a complaint while several thousands of dollars are stolen?”
A company named Columbo took over the license from You & i 2 Lottery. The new owners are reportedly based in the Dominican Republic. An assistant in St. Maarten told the lottery winner that he would take responsibility and pay her the $4,000.
Relieved by the news, the woman signed a contract to sell lottery tickets for Columbo, also against payment of commission.
On September 17, 2023, the woman managed to get in touch with the former manager of You & i 2, who allegedly ran off with her money and salesperson allowances. Manager M. categorically denied this.
Highly doubtful that her new boss would compensate her, the woman with the winning ticket decided to ask the police to intervene. A police officer then spoke to everyone involved. The old and new owners pointed fingers at each other.
Subsequently, the victim was summoned by the new owner of the lottery office to hand in the key to the office. “Everyone is mad at me,” she said. “I didn’t want it to get to this point; all I wanted was the money for the winning ticket.”
The woman went back to the police office in Philipsburg to file a comprehensive complaint with screenshots of WhatsApp conversations. In one, she asked her former boss if he had forgotten her, to which he replied: “I apologize if it seems that way, but we always honor our payment obligations.”