04/20/13 9:45am
04/20/2013 9:45 AM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | A man who tried cashing in a $74K lotto ticket at the Valero in Riverside was nearly scammed out his winnings.

Three Riverhead men attempted to scam a lotto winner out of more than $74,000 he won in a lotto ticket at the Valero Gas & Convenience Store in Riverside, Southampton Town Police said.

Police arrested Yalcin Nergiz, 41, Yunis Ozturk, 33, and Orhan Ozturk, 47, and charged them with felony counts of grand larceny and conspiracy, police said.

A 28-year-old construction worker, whom police did not name, brought in several scratch-off lotto tickets March 18 and a Take 5 Quick Pick lotto ticket. The two store clerks cashed in the scratch-offs for a few dollars, and then saw the Take 5 ticket was a winner worth $74,892.

Instead of alerting the man to his winnings, the clerks gave him $774, congratulated him and sent him on his way without offering a receipt that the victim requested, police said.

One of the clerks gave the winning ticket to his brother, Orhan Ozturk, to cash in so the three men could split the winnings. The victim realized something was amiss after learning that a store is not authorized to hand out winnings above $600. He also noticed the store boasting a $74,000 winner.

The victim unsuccessfully confronted the clerks at the store and then Southampton Town Police investigated in conjunction with the New York State Lotto Commission, the owner of the gas station and the Suffolk County District Attorney Economic Crimes Bureau.

Police arrested the three men Friday. They were charged with second-degree grand larceny and fourth-degree conspiracy, police said.

joew@timesreview.com