WATERTOWN, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Three members of a Watertown family are accused of fraudulently cashing in nearly $21 million in lottery tickets over the course of the last decade.
Federal prosecutors charged Ali Jaafar and his two sons Mohamed and Yousef Jaafar with one count of conspiracy to defraud the IRS, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and several counts of filing false tax returns.
The three allegedly cashed more than 13,000 lottery tickets between 2011 and 2019. Prosecutors said the family was allegedly part of a scheme that used a technique called "ten-percenting," where they bought winning lottery tickets off of the real winners at a 10-20% discount and presented them to the Massachusetts State Lottery as their own.
They said the real winners avoided a tax payout and the Jaafar family got to take home serious cash, as the Jafaars reported other supposed gambling losses to offset their lottery gains.
Mass. State Lottery Executive Director Michael Sweeney said the scam mainly involved instant scratch tickets.
"There's clearly a network of individuals and perhaps organizations that are involved in this, collecting and funneling the tickets, and serving as a pipeline," Sweeney said.
He said others would most likely be charged.
"Anyone who's experienced in money laundering would have instantly saw the red flags," Sweeney said.
Ali Jaafar was the top lottery ticket casher in Massachusetts in 2019, while his sons were third and fourth.
The fraud charge carries a possible five-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $250,000. They money laundering charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of twice the value of the money laundered, and restitution. The false tax return counts carry a maximum of three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
WBZ's Shari Small (@ShariSmallNews) reports: