Store clerk steals more than $100,000 in lottery scratchers, police say

Store clerk steals more than $100,000 in lottery scratchers

FRESNO, CA (KFSN/CNN) - A store clerk in Fresno, CA, is out of a job and after he stole thousands of dollars worth of lottery scratchers.

Investigators said the 37-year-old man, Mantej Singh, was caught on camera taking tickets at his workplace and redeeming the winners for months.

Surveillance video shows the store clerk ripping ticket after ticket and scanning each one of them in hopes of hitting the jackpot. In total, Singh stole more than $100,000 worth of lottery scratchers, police said.

“It was after the time that the books were closed out that between that time and two in the morning when additional packs would get scanned,” said Martin Van Overbeek, with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.

Singh was an employee at the Fast and Easy Convenience Store.

Overbeek said the store owner’s attorney contacted authorities a week ago concerned the employee was embezzling money.

"The store owner thought they were receiving a high number of payouts for lottery tickets, and they didn't coincide with what the books were showing," Overbeek said.

Scanning machines can quickly determine winning tickets and police said that’s how Singh was able to go through rolls of scratchers without scratching them first, Overbeek said.

Overbeek said Singh would then cash in the winning tickets either at work, or several other locations around the city.

The arrest came as a surprise for frequent customers like Tina Hernandez, who’s won some money at the store.

“It’s been a lucky store,” Hernandez said. “When he had scanned my ticket, it was $100 and he was like, ‘Oh congratulations,’ and he told the lady, ‘You see, people do win here!’ He was very nice, he would always be friendly.”

The owner of the store declined to speak on camera and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said Singh bailed out of jail Monday.

Singh did not return calls for comment.

“(For) us as customers who spend our money there and have good faith in being a frequent customer, it’s unfortunate,” Hernandez said.

Police said Singh admitted to the crime, but didn't say why he stole the tickets.

He faces grand theft and embezzlement charges.

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