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Back child support debts hidden in lottery wins

Officials with the Massachusetts State Lottery suspect that a scam is in the works for some residents who keep racking up lottery wins that are statistically highly improbable.

An insurance agent from Chelsea has won a minimum of $1,000 on 140 tickets, while his son and daughter appear to share his streak of uncommonly good luck -- almost 200 winning tickets between them in the last few years for a combined total of over $440,000 in family winnings.

Lottery officials suspect, but have thus far been unable to substantiate, that the family and others like them are cashing in tickets for others who are seeking to avoid a seizure of their winnings for owing back child support or other debts.

The Lottery willingly shares information regarding scratch-off ticket winners with the Internal Revenue Service and the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, among other agencies, in order to identify those cashing in tickets under their own name who owe back support for their children. Officials also track those who cash in 20 or more tickets totaling $20,000 or more annually and share their data with the state auditor, attorney general and tax collectors on the federal and state levels.

Thus far, since 2001, officials with the lottery have contributed to collections of $9 million in delinquent child support and tax payments from lottery winners. But their efforts may have spawned a cottage industry of middlemen that debtors use to cheat the system out of monies owed.

It's a given that parents should support their children. But it's also well known that some will shirk that duty. If you are owed child support from an absent parent, the legal system may be able to assist you with recovering what is owed.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Some winning streaks have defied belief" Todd Wallack, Jul. 20, 2014

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