Store Clerk Accused of Stealing Customer's Winning Lottery Ticket

POSTED: Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 8:55am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:58pm

A Grand Prairie, Texas convenience store clerk is a wanted man after allegedly stealing a $1 million dollar lottery ticket from a customer and cashing it in!

That clerk, Pankaj Joshi, is considered a fugitive from justice and the real winner of the lottery ticket is still waiting for his big payday. It's a long way from his home country of Nepal to north Texas, but that's where investigators believe 25-year-old Pankaj Joshi may have returned after five years of working at the Lucky Food store in Grand Prairie.

Investigators believe Joshi fled the U.S. after stealing a winning lottery ticket worth $1 million from a regular store customer. An official in Austin said "Mr. Joshi then moved that money around between two other banks and then went on a trip and returned back to the Dallas area and now we don't know exactly where he is."

Back in may, 67-year-old Willis Willis went to the store to redeem three lotto tickets. Authorities say Joshi incorrectly told Willis he had won only $2, but Joshi cashed-in the ticket on June 25th. When co-workers learned about his new fortune, they grew suspicious and contacted the Texas Lottery Commission in Austin. The store owner said "one of the investigators came down here and asked why we think he's not the winner and we said he never plays a ticket."

Willis didn't know he'd been duped until they called and told him. So far, authorities have recovered more than $365,000 of the stolen money from some of Joshi's bank accounts. His bond is set at $10 million. There's no word tonight on whether Willis will get his actual payout. Joshi is charged with one count of claiming a lottery prize by fraud, a second-degree felony punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison if there's a conviction.