Mischa Parikh knew she was selling losing lottery tickets.
Over the past decade, the North Carolina lottery has revoked licenses for more than a half dozen people because of misconduct. But Parikh was the only one sanctioned for “pinning” tickets.
In such cases, store owners or employees take a small, sharp object like a safety pin and scratch off a tiny line on a ticket, just enough to scan a bar code to see if it’s a winner. They sell the losing tickets to customers who have no chance of winning.
Parikh lost the lottery license for her Skyway Express store near downtown Monroe in 2008.
“That is, as far as we’re concerned, one of the worst fraudulent things a retailer could do,” lottery Executive Director Alice Garland said. “To an untrained eye you don’t notice it. But it’s enough of a line that it could be scanned.”
Pinning won’t work anymore in North Carolina, Garland said, because the agency enhanced security with a multilayered bar code that needs a bigger area on the ticket to be scanned.
You do something like that once, you’ll do it again.
Alice Garland, N.C. lottery executive director
Lottery records detailed Parikh’s case.
A customer called the lottery security hotline to complain that Parikh’s husband, Ben, sold a scratch-off ticket that was already scratched.
Mischa Parikh denied to a lottery investigator knowing about anyone pinning tickets. But she later admitted to the investigator she had pinned five tickets, state documents show.
In April 2008, the lottery terminated her license. The Parikhs unsuccessfully tried to get it back for several years.
A Monroe police detective, who briefly looked into the case, wrote that Mischa Parikh “told me she was curious and wanted to see how many non winning tickets there were.”
Any retailer caught pinning will never get their license back, the lottery said. “You do something like that once, you’ll do it again,” Garland said.
When asked about losing her license, Parikh told the Observer, “It’s complicated. I’ll call you later.” She later refused to comment.