ROME (AP) — Border police at Rome’s main airport on Sunday prevented a Naples tobacco shop owner suspected of running off with a customer’s winning game ticket from boarding a flight to the Canary Islands, Italian news reports said.
The man didn’t have the filched card worth 500,000 euros ($580,000) on himself, but he did have a plane ticket for Fuerteventura, one of the Spain’s Canary Islands, the LaPresse news agency said.
The man, who hasn’t been identified, was wanted for investigation of suspected theft. The man allegedly snatched the ticket and dashed off on his motor scooter after the customer on Friday had asked the shop in a working-class neighborhood of Naples to verify the win, which is the top prize.
The older woman had purchased two “scratch and win” cards. She asked a shop employee to verify the win. The employee then passed the card to one of the shop’s owners for a final check, Italian news reports said. But instead he allegedly kept the card and raced off on his motor scooter through Naples.
He is now free on his own recognizance, LaPresse said.
To thwart anyone from illegally cashing in, authorities at the Italian tax office which runs the “scratch and win” operation froze the entire block of card numbers that had been distributed to the tobacco shop.
Investigators are still looking for the game card.