Four people lined up at the District of Columbia lottery board's New York Avenue office yesterday morning holding winning tickets worth $10,000 each, but one ticket was a fake.
On the second day of the D.C. instant lottery, a professional printer from Mount Rainier allegedly tried to add a zero and move a comma on a lottery ticket in an attempt to make it look like a winner, according to lottery board officials.
D.C. police said they arrested McCarver Lee, 25, and charged him with felony forgery. Lee could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
D.C. Lottery and Charitable Games Control Board spokesman Alex Exum said yesterday's forgery attempt looked "pretty obvious."
Later in the day, said Exum, lottery officials detained another man for suspected forgery. The man, arrested and handcuffed by police, was released after his coworkers called lottery officials to say they had played a practical joke on him.
"There is no way to beat the system and people ought to be aware of that," said Douglass Gordon, executive director of the lottery board. "There are mechanical, visual and physical procedures for detecting altered tickets." Exum said all tickets presented at the claims center are checked by a computer, which contains the serial numbers of all the winning tickets.
The three legitimate $10,000 winners yesterday raised the number of big winners for the lottery's first two days to six.
Exum estimated 1.5 million tickets have been sold so far, with ticket orders by vendors doubling from the first day to the second. As soon as the total supply of 10 million tickets is sold, the game will end and the $100 winners will participate in a drawing for a single $1 million grand prize.
"At the rate we're selling, we could be out in 10 days," said Exum. "A new game would start about three to four weeks later. We don't want a long delay."
After a morning marked not only by brisk sales, but also by a hoax and a forgery, lottery director Gordon sighed in the elevator. "When this game's over, I think I'm taking a vacation," he said.