TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Forty-six New Jersey lottery winners from July 2013 to July 2014 used social security numbers of dead people to collect their winnings, according to an audit released Wednesday.
The audit said that the use of dead people's identification numbers creates a risk of reduced tax revenue for the state, overpayment of public assistance, and lost collections on child support, defaulted student loans and other debt.
State Auditor Stephen Eells also said that up to $890,000 in prize winnings could have been recovered if winners below $250,000 were checked for debts. The lottery now only checks winners of more than $250,000 against the treasury department's Set-Off of Individual Liability system, but the audit recommends checks for all winners over $600.
Lottery Executive Director Carole Hedinger said that the lottery has a new system to maximize debt collection and that it has to balance providing good service and timely payments with its legal responsibilities. She said in the written response that the lottery collected nearly $300,000 from winners that owed the state.
Hedinger also wrote that the lottery is working with the state attorney general and other agencies to ensure that "proper regulations are in place for the recovery of all funds owed to the State that would otherwise" go to lottery winners.
The audit found 680 people who it said provided questionable social security numbers and recommended that the lottery verify those numbers through the Veris social security database for all winners of $600 or more.
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