GULFPORT, Fla. (WFLA) – Lottery winners are being called losers, and you could be cheated out of millions.

8 On Your Side is uncovering a lottery rip-off involving dishonest store clerks.

Adel Mosaad and Michail Papagyriou are accused of telling an undercover investigator her winning ticket was worth nothing, or only $5.

We found Michail behind the counter of TLC Food Mart in Gulfport.

“That was first time. That was by mistake. I threw away in the garbage,” said Papargyriou.

The store’s lottery computer is gone, taken after Papargyriou’s arrest.

“I was honest all my life. I brought my kids honesty, everything. Now I’m honest,” he said.

At the Sam’s Sunoco near Tropicana Field, Adel Mosaad is no longer an employee.

“He never work in here again,” said clerk Gerges Hanna.

Investigators allowed the store to keep their lottery machine, providing Mosaad got canned.

“He paid already the $5 for her, and she takes the money, she went out, and after that the undercover comes in here,” said Hanna.

Problem is, the ticket was worth $2,000.

The best way to prevent a lottery rip-off? Scan your ticket at the self-scanner.

“We encourage everybody, as soon as they get that ticket, just sign the ticket and that way, it insures that you’re the only one that can cash that ticket,” said Lottery Security Director Ron Cave.

The good news is less than three percent of retailers are caught scamming people.

If you are doubtful about what you are being told, there is a simple solution.

“You can ask for your ticket back and take your ticket somewhere else for a check,” said Cave.

The lottery conducts these kinds of undercover operations across the state.

Clerks caught are charged with grand theft.

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