How winning the lottery in Florida turned my life into a Living Nightmare of Harassment...

 

Phone call with the lottery department 11/16/2018:

 

How do I get my name removed from the winners list on your web site?  It is not just an invasion of my privacy anymore—it is now a safety issue!   I have been contacted by so many strange people for well over a year now, making demands and refusing to stop calling and sending mail….it needs to stop now!

 

Lottery staff worker: 

You can never have your name removed from our website.

 

Me: 

So I am subject to this harassment my whole life now?

 

Lottery staff worker: 

Yes.

 

Me: 

Even if I get a lawyer?

 

Lottery staff worker: 

That’s up to you

 

Me: 

Then I will make a website to warn other people about this, and to let them know all of the other things the lottery department did to make my life a living hell!

 

Lottery staff woman: Good luck with that {slightly laughing}

 

 

 

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Claiming my Florida lottery ticket prize was a Bait & Switch (tricked into a false annuity) and I can’t have the prize money unless I give over 40% of it to a broker-shark that told me the lottery department gave them my cell number!

 

After a 1-million dollar win on a scratch-off ticket, I asked the lottery clerk for any written terms or disclosures before selecting the cash or annuity option.  She said there was nothing in writing.  I asked “Not even online?” and she said “No, nothing at all.”  So I spent two hours researching the Florida statutes on annuities to make sure I knew what to expect.  The Florida state laws state that annuities are required to disclose terms for suitability with a 10-day cancellation period commencing on the date these disclosures are given to the recipient.

 

The state lottery department sold me on the annuity and refused to give me any disclosures as Florida State law requires on annuities. Weeks after literally begging the lottery department’s deputy secretary for disclosures and my annuity contract, he told me that I don't own any securities because it's really not an annuity, and they do not disclose the terms for suitability as required by state law on annuities!  “But you named it an “annuity” both verbally and in writing on the lottery web site and did not disclose otherwise, which makes it subject to annuity law!”

 

I only agreed to the annuity option because of what the state laws promised me.  My actual  plan was to transfer it to an IRA (via 1035 exchange) and borrow against it as annuities are normally allowed to do to help my disabled son, by creating a business that he could work in without being fired because of his limited abilities. 

 

He has autism, anxiety and severe depression.  He cannot qualify for disability on his own because he was never able to work and pay into it.  I gave my son hope by promising to help him because of this win and it only hurt him even more when I had to take the promise back because of misrepresentation.  Now he is in therapy because of severe depression and suicidal thoughts.

 

With my plan, made with a financial professional at Van Guard Investments, I could have made his life better now, by borrowing against the annuity to set him up, and have the business revenue pay back the loan, while keeping the principal balance in tact for his survival in the future, when I am no longer alive to help him. 

 

The staff at the lottery department told me it was an annuity when they asked me to choose an annuity or cash option, and also on their website they named it an annuity, but their bait and switch tactics have our money tied up now.  All they gave me was an IOU, and told me I don't own any securities!  Other states give winners a real annuity contract, I was told. but I learned later, not Florida.

 

Everyone says get a lawyer to find a way to transfer out of it, but with no disclosures on terms or guidelines in existence, lawyers are just as clueless on this so-called-annuity that you don’t really own after you win it.   And if lawyers are able to somehow magically obtain such information, why am I not privy to it?

 

The lottery department clerk handed me a page stating in writing that I had 60-days to select the cash option, before asking me to sign the affidavit opting for the annuity.  With this page in my left hand, I signed their affidavit with my right hand.

 

After literally begging for and receiving no annuity contract or disclosures, I requested the cash option a week before the 60-day deadline.  That is when they told me “The 60-day cash option only applies if you did not opt for the annuity”  But no where on that page did it state anything like that!

 

How was I to know this is it was not written on the only page they handed me before asking me to sign the affidavit?  That was nowhere written or explained to me, it just said “cash option until this date” (60 days later).

 

I would have never signed the affidavit agreeing to the annuity if they told me that the page they gave me was written in error!  I later requested the cash option because they refused to give me any annuity documents or disclosures as Florida law requires on annuities. 

 

The lottery department deputy secretary told me even though I don't own any securities, I am however allowed to have one of the brokers (that they allegedly gave my phone number to without my permission) sell this security. 

 

The annuity broker offered me only $415,000.00 for my million dollar annuity which had a cash value of $770,000.00 weeks ago and said that the $415,000.00 is still income-taxable at 33% leaving $278,000.00 to me. 

 

So if the cash option of the million dollar prize is $770,000.00 and they only give you $415,000.00 to get out of this bait-and-switch, where does the $355,000.00 go?   They don’t explain that…..if you ask, they just hustle you with “We’re gonna make you 10% on your money so who cares about the missing money!”

 

So I was told I am only allowed to sell this so-called-but-not-really-annuity (which they tell me I do not own), to one of these broker-sharks who told me my cell number was given to them by the state lottery department. 

 

One of the annuity brokers implied there were kickbacks to the lottery department, but said he can't say anymore.  Another annuity broker told me” “Yes it’s true, but it is not cash kickbacks, it is tickets to sporting events and gift cards.”  As if that justifies it. 

 

Why would there be any gifts from or to these broker-sharks?   Is the lottery department somehow cut in on the huge commission from brokering the so-called annuity?   Is that why they sold me this fake annuity refusing to disclose the truth that it is not really an annuity?

 

Are the gifts also given in exchange for private contact information of winners so they can solicit them unrelentingly?   I don’t know for sure, but I can’t think of any other reason gifts would be necessary.

 

They already profited by selling me on the annuity, which was valued $28,000.00 less than the cash, without disclosing this or giving me the option of whether or not to lose $28,000.00 by signing their affidavit.  Where is the missing $28,000.00?  No one knows.

 

This shows one of the probable reasons why they will not honor the misleading 60-day cancellation period they handed me, or my request to cancel the annuity option due to misrepresentation and non-disclosure.  Then this missing money would have to be found again if they corrected their error.

 

They do not allow any cancellation period at all, because they are self-regulated and do not have to follow Florida State law on annuities, which requires full disclosure and a 10-day cancellation period. 

 

At a minimum, they should have at least disclosed the fact that they are exempt from Florida laws on annuities because it is not fair to people like me who rely on Florida laws for protection.   And I really did take the time to read state laws on annuities before opting into it.

 

The Florida state statutes should state that the lottery department does not have to follow these state laws if that is the case.

 

 

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Here are two additional statutes that support my claim...

 

F.S. 24.102 (b) 

“That the lottery games be operated by a department of state government that functions as much as possible in the manner of an entrepreneurial business enterprise.”

 

Entrepreneurial businesses are subject to fair disclosure of annuity terms for suitability, and the lottery department claims they don’t have to disclose the truth… how does that make sense?

 

So every other “entrepreneurial business enterprise” must follow Florida law, except the lottery department, but they forgot to write that in the statute.

 

and

F.S. 24.105 (12) (b) 

“Maintain the confidentiality of the street address and the telephone number of a winner, in that such information is confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution, unless the winner consents to the release of such information or as provided for in s. 24.115(4) or s. 409.2577.”

 

Even though the law F.S. 24.102 (b) states that the Florida Lottery Dept. is to function as an entrepreneurial business, they do not abide by Florida laws on providing disclosures on annuities for suitability, followed by a 10-day cancellation period.  A true entrepreneurial business would most likely be shut down and disbarred if they didn’t follow these laws.  But why should the lottery department abide by them?  They are protected by Florida’s Sovereign Immunity, conveniently limiting what they can get sued for, even if their negligence causes someone’s death. 

 

If they did abide by F.S. 24.105 (12) (b) would murdered Florida lottery winner Abraham Shakespeare still be alive today? 

 

Many other states allow winners to keep their name private because they understand the need for safety in this crazy world we live in, but Florida will not allow you to claim a prize over a certain dollar amount, without you allowing them to use your name in their press releases and marketing.  And they will never remove your name off the internet upon your request, even years later, so you are a sitting duck for life!  I wish we could buy lottery tickets in any other state, but it is not possible to do while in Florida.

 

Since this option was presented to me as an “annuity” I want to exercise my legal rights to the cancellation period on annuities that The State of Florida requires, which begins on the date required disclosures are given, and I have not received such disclosures to this date, but the Florida state Lottery department refuses to comply with the Florida State Law on annuities.

 

Another Lie before claim… “If you opt for the annuity, only the first payment withholds 25% for taxes, after that all future payments have no withholding and you are responsible to pay the taxes on your own.” Truth:  It was not only the first payment withholding 25%!

 

I have disputed this for a very long time with every branch of local government there is, but no one would get involved.  My first complaint was a phone call to the state department of finance, and the representative told me that I was 100% correct, further stating:

 

“If you were not given disclosures for suitability stating the full terms of this annuity, then you have the legal right to cancel the annuity option right now.” 

 

However, the lottery department still would not comply to allow me to cancel the annuity option, even though it was misrepresented to be an annuity.

 

Complaints to all branches of the state government all just seem to pretend that they are working on it, to stall for months and never respond, as if they are just waiting for me to give up my civil rights and let the broker-sharks scam me as other winners have most likely done in the past, or they wouldn't be in business.   

 

A United States senator kindly told me that he wishes he could help but is not allowed to by law, because it is my local senator’s responsibility to resolve this, but the local senator’s office refused to help.  The representative claimed he was presenting this dispute to the lottery legislatures but that was untrue too apparently, because he never responded to my many follow-up emails for months asking for any disposition on this matter. 

 

The state government seems to me to be all about camaraderie, so any complaints against a government employee or department was a waste of time for me.   It seems as if they just laugh everything off because they are resilient to the law, because they know other state employees have their back and they are protected by sovereign immunity.

 

On top of all the stress from the long-term disputing, and causing  me to renege on a promise to help my disabled son, the lottery department refuses to acknowledge my request to delete my name off their winner press release sites, to stop the unrelenting phone calls and mail and harassment from solicitors. 

 

Some of the phone calls are scary because they know who I am but I don’t know who they are, and they won’t stop calling.   I don’t even have my money because of this bait and switch, but I have to deal with the harassing calls trying to shake me down anyway.  

 

Sure I could change my phone number, but I can’t change my name, so they will only find my new number and address somehow.   I am tired of telling these people to leave me alone, I have no money!  They just don’t listen.

 

Everything posted in my blog is the truth to the best of my knowledge, and I have saved all of my correspondence as evidence.  I do not want to post my name, although I am sure the lottery department knows who I am.   If you have any comments, you can message me on twitter.  https://twitter.com/lottery_florida

 

I respectfully avoided using personal names in my blog, but I feel that disclosure is important, so if they will not disclose, hopefully my blog will stop a future winner from experiencing the same nightmare.

Email sent to the lottery department on Dec 8 2018:

I am requesting a copy of any signed document giving my consent to publish my personal name on your website or press releases.  I looked through every page I signed and I cannot find it and I do not recall ever authorizing this.  I am asking you to please remove my name from your website or produce an authorization signed by me authorizing my name and personal financial information to be disclosed to the public.  This is no longer just an invasion of my privacy.  It is now a safety issue.

 

Email Reply:   “The Florida Lottery is in receipt of your public records request.  Your request is under review and we will provide a timeframe for completion, along with any associated costs as soon as possible.”

 

Reply Letter in the mail dated....    Dec 11 2018:

“We have received your records request, sent via email on December 8th 2018.  We have no documents that are responsive to your request.”

Sincerely,

_________

Attorney, Florida Lottery

 

They seem to have zero empathy in regards to the agony their marketing causes people.  They admit that they have no written permission to publish my name or financial information publically, but still refuse to delete it off their site or press releases! 

Oh but they have sovereign immunity being part of the state, so why care about protecting people from harm, as long as they are protected themselves.

This win took away-more from me than it gave me! 

 

Every dollar they gave me in the installments went back to them plus more, as I was trying to win a do-over chance to correct their errors and keep the promise to my disabled son. 

 

In all that wasted money and time, I have learned that it is ridiculously impossible to try to win anything again.  I would never recommend trying to win a jackpot to anyone!

 

My advice is to keep your money and keep your valuable time focused on you and your family instead.

 

The lottery games will most likely inadvertently rob the average person of both, money and time and then the department will flaunt the few winners which disillusion the real odds of winning. 

 

If you think about it, the honest odds are that they make thousands of people permanently sad after realizing they fell for false hope, for every person they make temporarily happy. 

 

They lottery games people obviously do not care about anyone, they just look for ways to dazzle you with marketing. 

 

They know that this bait and switch caused my son to go into a deeper state of depression, in therapy for suicidal thoughts, because I told them and they didn’t care one bit.

 

Yet they campaign that they help kids through “Bright Futures Scholarships.”  I believe that is just a marketing ploy directed at college kids who are now legally of age to buy lottery tickets.  If they cared about any kid’s bright future, they would have corrected this error they made that made my son deteriorate!

 

Marketing is the art of convincing someone to part with their hard-earned money, by definition.

 

I already proved how they falsified odds of winning on the holiday raffle games.  (link is above) and that is the definition of false advertising, AKA stealing.

 

Also, they seem to have people programmed to tweet photos of their winning tickets, regardless of how many losing tickets are in between, so they can retweet winning tickets, and disillusion innocent people even more!

 

And on top of all this, they advertise my name and financial information on their site and press releases for their own selfish benefit, without my permission, causing me even more grief, as strange people keep calling me for money I don’t have. 

 

The annuity brokers won’t leave me alone either, even though I told them I won’t cave in and let them rob me.

It’s Not Just Me Uncovering Lottery Fraud… This Tweet Above is From a Journalist who felt defrauded himself….