Six people have been charged so far in connection with a scheme to manipulate Connecticut Lottery terminals to produce more instant winning tickets in the 5 Card Cash game, authorities said Tuesday.
Additional arrests are possible as state Department of Consumer Protection criminal investigators continue their probe, authorities said.
Former lottery retailers from Bloomfield and Windsor were identified Monday as being among those charged with three felonies: first-degree larceny, first-degree computer crimes and rigging a game. Vikas Patel, 32, of Windsor Avenue, Windsor, and Pranav Patel, 32, of Revere Drive, Bloomfield, posted $25,000 bail and are scheduled to be arraigned Monday at Superior Court in Hartford. Both were arrested Friday. The others charged, according to the Department of Consumer Protection, are lottery retailers or their employees.
They were identified Tuesday as Prakuni Patel and Rahul Gandhi, both of Jobs Road, Wallingford; Sedat Kurutan of Wild Cherry Drive, Naugatuck; and Moinuddin Saiyed of Freedman Drive, Norwalk. They were arrested between Feb. 29 and March 7, according to court records. All have posted bail.
The 5 Card Cash game was suspended in November after Connecticut Lottery and state Department of Consumer Protection officials noticed there were more winning tickets than the game's parameters should have allowed. The game remains suspended. An investigation determined that some lottery retailers were manipulating lottery machines to print more instant winner tickets and fewer losers.
William E. Ryan, director if the gaming division at the Department of Consumer Protection, said the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected. Vikas Patel, owner of Hartford Liquor at 212 Capen St. in Hartford, and Pranav Patel, owner of Center Spirit Shoppe at 32 Bridge St. in the Collinsville section of Canton, are accused of manipulating the lottery terminals in their stores to produce more winning tickets. They are accused of then cashing the tickets and taking the proceeds.
According to the arrest warrants for Vikas Patel and Pranav Patel, about 24 percent of all 5 Card Cash tickets sold were instant winners. At Hartford Liquor, in one sample 67 percent of tickets sold were instant winner and in another 58 percent were winners. At Center Spirit Shoppe, 76 percent of the 5 Card Cash tickets were instant winners in one sample and 59 percent were winners in another sample.
An investigator for the Connecticut Lottery determined that terminal operators could slow down their lottery machines by requesting a number of database reports or by entering several requests for lottery game tickets. While those reports were being processed, the operator could enter sales for 5 Card Cash tickets. Before the tickets would print, however, the operator could see on a screen if the tickets were instant winners. If tickets were not winners, the operator could cancel the sale before the tickets printed.