An apparent lottery winner in Massachusetts, it has been revealed, in fact stole her $4million scratch card win having exploited the real winner’s lack of English skills.
The woman, Susana Gaspar from New Bedford, became a local TV star when was unveiled as the Massachusetts State Lottery’s second ever lucky winner of the $4million Gold Rush, however she is now back in the news having been accused of stealing the jackpot ticket from a Portuguese immigrant.
Problems with Translation?
Alongside an alleged co-conspirator, Gaspar has been accused of swindling the winning Gold Rush ticket from Joao Luis DaPonte.
The man from Portugal has claimed in a lawsuit that he bought said ticket at a café in New Bedford but, upon seeing a symbol marked ‘$4MILL’ having scratched it, he believed this meant $4,000. In Portuguese, ‘mill’ means thousand and this is where confusion began to reign.
He has claimed that after his supposed $4,000 win he asked a Maria Oliveira to cash in his prize, something she’d done for others in exchange for a small fee.
However, it seems that Oliveira gave the ticket to Gaspar, who was her boss working next door to the café where the purchase was made, and between them they hatched a plan to essentially defraud DaPonte from his rightful winnings, or at least the vast majority of them.
The Dastardly Plan
Gaspar, it is alleged, decided to take the major sum, a huge $2.6million after taxes, and told Oliveira to hand DaPonte only $3,800 and tell him that was his total win!
The plan began to unravel somewhat thereafter though when DaPonte discovered that Oliveira’s boss had apparently “won” $4million on the same Gold Rush game, making him suspicious. It was then that DaPonte showed friends a photocopy of his own winning ticket at which point they informed him of what “mill” actually meant.
DaPonte then realised he’d basically been robbed and began the process of filing a suit against Gaspar and Oliveira.
The Blame Game
Things are never cut and dried in an American lawsuit, ever, and now the game has truly begun. Oliveira for her part has completely denied the allegations and has said that she has never cashed in lottery wins for anyone.
She has also denied ever taking hold of a lottery ticket from Mr DaPonte, let alone handing him $3,800. For her part, Gaspar has claimed in fact that she was misled by Oliveira. She has said that she believed her employee simply found the ticket then agreed to split the winnings with her, though surely if you genuinely found a ticket, cashed it in and realised it was a winner you’d either hand it in to police or be entitled to claim it for yourself?
If that wasn’t strange enough, it transpires that colleagues Oliveira and Gaspar share the same lawyer, Walter P, Faria. He told a local newspaper that aspects of DaPonte’s story don’t add up.
The lawyer claims that the “winner” did not actually know Oliveira before approaching her regarding this ticket, and thinking that is enough to convince us all has asked “why would you hand it to a stranger?” The lawyer has also now claimed that DaPonte’s photocopy is a fake!
As of now, the winning amount is being held in an account, earning interest until this legal dispute can be settled. Looking from the outside in, it seems Mr DaPonte will indeed be getting his winnings soon, minus lawyer’s fees perhaps, and may want to start spending it in a different part of town.