Measure Comes After Audit Found Hundreds of Claimants Using Questionable SSNs
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Raj Mukherji and Angelica Jimenez to combat lottery fraud by making it a fourth-degree crime to use a fake Social Security number to collect lottery winnings is now law.
“The fraudulent use of Social Security numbers may prevent appropriate taxes and other debt and liabilities from being collected accurately or at all,” said Quijano (D-Union). “The purpose of this law is to deter individuals from providing false information when claiming lottery winnings. If the state lottery is to remain a valuable service, its credibility must be impeccable, and that means ensuring lottery winnings are properly collected.”
The law (A-4469) comes after an audit of the Division of the State Lottery from July 1, 2013 to August 31, 2014 found 680 claimants provided questionable Social Security numbers when collecting lottery winnings of $600 or more. The audit also revealed that the lottery missed out on recovering $890,000 that winners owed in taxes and other obligations for the fiscal year that ended last June.
“Using fake Social Security numbers to evade debt and liability collections on lottery winnings means a dead-beat dad, for example, can avoid having his winnings allocated for crucial child support,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “This hurts families and the state and we need to send a stronger message that it won’t be tolerated.”
“So many worthwhile programs benefit from lottery proceeds – seniors, veterans, schools – all of which lose out if people are able to scam the system,” said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson). “Nearly a million dollars was lost last year that could have benefited these programs. It’s time to crack down harder on this fraud.”
The audit also noted that 46 of these claimants used Social Security numbers of deceased individuals with different names than the claimants.
Under the law, anyone found guilty of this type of crime would face up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The measure gained unanimous approval from both houses of the legislature before being signed by the governor.