Dead People’s Social Security Numbers Used to Claim New Jersey Lottery Prizes

An audit released by the state of New Jersey last week revealed that nearly fifty lottery winners in the state claimed lottery winnings by using Social Security numbers that previously belonged to dead people. Nearly $900,000 in prize money from July 2013 to July 2014 could have been recovered by the state to compensate for outstanding debts had appropriate measures been taken to ensure the identity of the claimants.

Dead People’s Social Security Numbers Used to Claim New Jersey Lottery Prizes

Anyone who wins a New Jersey Lottery prize worth more than $600 must have their claim processed by lottery officials in order to ascertain whether or not the winner owes any money to the state. This could be in the form of unpaid child support, student loans that have defaulted or unpaid back taxes. According to the audit, the Division of the State Lottery did not check to see if all winners of more than $600 but less than $250,000 were on the hook for state debts.

In-depth checks are only used for prize winners who receive more than $250,000. This system, run by the state Treasury and known as the Set-Off of Individual Liability (SOIL) assesses whether or not winners of large prizes owe debts to the state of New Jersey or the federal government. Winners only need to produce their Social Security card and other tax information if they win a jackpot or a top-tier prize.

After performing a match against a database, the auditors found that an astonishing 680 people in the time period examined had given Social Security numbers that were either invalid or could not be verified. Out of this number, there were 46 people who provided Social Security numbers and names of deceased persons.

The lead auditor, Stephen Eells, recommended that the New Jersey Lottery move towards performing a SOIL check on anyone who wins more than $600 to combat the loss of tax revenue to the state. In addition, verification of Social Security numbers should be performed for anyone who wins more than $600.

Money raised from New Jersey Lottery ticket sales for games like Pick 6 or Jersey Cash supports educational initiatives, veterans, human services and countless other institutions. The loss of such revenue due to the use of false or incomplete identification is not just tax fraud - it represents a loss of valuable funding for vital public programs.

To learn more about the New Jersey Lottery, the games it offers and the programs it supports, visit the informational page at


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Article Last Modified: Tuesday, 29 September 2015 16:58:51+00:00
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