A Florida mechanic who is out of work won the $10,000 prize on a scratch-off lottery ticket, but the state took his earnings away, alleging he owed them a few thousand dollars.
The Department of Economic Opportunity informed Joe Cheung that they would retain his earnings since he received unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak and had been overpaid.
That’s not a bad first day in business.
A Florida mechanic won a $1M lottery on the same day he opened his new auto repair shop.https://t.co/MBiyjR3TBq
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) September 11, 2021
Debt and More
Cheung claimed to have requested forgiveness of his $7,800 debt outstanding and even to have documentation that the overpayments had been canceled.
To address the situation with the department, however, took Cheung months and he is only now receiving his awards, thanks to Local 10 News.
Between December and the beginning of February, Cheung called and left voicemails in an effort to receive a response on his winnings.
He said after leaving six voicemails and receiving no answer, he called again and was kept on hold for four hours until the phone connection was disconnected.
Though after Local 10 News took up his issue and got in touch with the Department of Economic Opportunity, he soon received a call letting him know everything had been resolved.
He said they admitted a mistake had been made and they expected the check to be back in four to six weeks.
Florida mechanic is left furious after winning $10,000 lottery prize only for the state to strip him of the cash by claiming he owed them $7,800 because he'd been overpaid by COVID unemployment scheme
via https://t.co/Yansv4EDot https://t.co/0Wndk7iaA6
— Svetlana Loves Reality TV (@LoveReality9) March 1, 2023
Cheung, who has been waiting months for the prizes, is really relieved. When he checked his ticket and saw he won, he claimed he was in shock. A note telling him he won and to go to the lottery office to pick up his prize money arrived.
Cheung said he sought to redeem his winnings using the ticket as soon as he arrived at the lottery office in Miami Lakes. Yet, he went away with nothing before now.
He said to the outlet that he wouldn’t have been able to get the money back without them and he is really grateful to Channel 10 for its assistance.
Cheung, who is unemployed, indicated that when he received the money from his lottery winnings, it meant a lot to him. He said he would use the funds to cover his mortgage and auto payments.
Cheung is not the only Florida lottery winner to go through this hardship.
As per the Florida Lottery, 9,804 lottery winners statewide got letters alleging they owed money between January 2022 and January 2023, with the bulk owing to the Department of Economic Opportunity.
According to a statement made by the Department of Economic Opportunity, “overpayment processes like these are in place to curb fraud” and have halted over $23.2 billion in fraud, as shown by Local 10 News.
Many overpayments happen when the claimant does not submit an overpayment waiver. The Overpayment Waiver Request Form in the Reemployment Assistance accounts of claimants can be used to address this.