False info in NY lottery led to arrest in $5M scam


Andy Ashkar claims he bought the winning scratch-off ticket himself in 2006 at his family's Syracuse convenience store, but waited six years to cash it with his brother because he worried the money would negatively affect his engagement.

Lottery officials got suspicious, and launched a media campaign to find the person they say was the real winner.

Authorities say that person is a 49-year-old man, who they claim was swindled out of the ticket by Ashkar.

They say Ashkar told the man he had won only $5,000, and offered to pay him $4,000 on the spot to avoid taxes and other complications.

"All he saw was a five and a bunch of zeros and he made the mistake of trusting Andy Ashkar instead of his friend who told him this doesn't seem right," said district attorney William Fitzpatrick. "For six years he has lived a very pedestrian life, struggling and working hard. I would be just thrilled to death to his life just completely changed around."

If convicted, 34-year-old Andy Ashkar, could face up to 25 years in prison.

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