Some South Jersey cabbies thought they hit the jackpot -- instead of rolling in the dough they are trying to find out where it went.
New Jersey State Police want to track down a man who they said has been using bogus lottery tickets to scam Atlantic City cab drivers out of thousands of dollars.
“I feel really bad, you know,” said Zia Haq in an interview with NBC 10 News Wednesday. He said he became a victim last week.
Haq and another cab driver fell for the culprit’s story on separate occasions within the past week, State Police said.
Investigators said they both believed the man’s pitch -- in exchange for $5,000 he would give them a winning New Jersey Lottery scratch-off ticket worth $30,000. He allegedly claimed he could not cash the tickets in himself.
“He said he owed someone child support and if he tried to cash it in, he’s not going to get any money,” Haq said.
Haq said he dropped the man off at a local hotel -- he returned a short time later with $2,000 he got from his cousin and gave the culprit the money. That was the last he saw of the man, he said.
The other cabbie paid $3,000, State Police said.
Haq brought the ticket to New Jersey Lottery headquarters outside Trenton later that morning, but lottery officials quickly determined the ticket was a fraud, he said.
Apparently, neither victim realized the tickets had been altered. The tickets appeared to be winners because numbers had been placed over the actual losing numbers, detectives said.
Haq’s brother, also an Atlantic City cabbie, said he was suspicious from the start.
“All lies. I told him, why you trust someone like that, especially in this city, Atlantic City?” Shams Haq recalled.
Anyone who is able to identify the suspect, who was captured on surveillance video at a convenience store around the time of one of the incidents, is asked to call the investigations unit of the New Jersey State Police Office of Governmental Security at 609-984-4007 or 609-292-5662.
“I want him to get caught and I don’t want that to happen to somebody else,” Haq said about the man who taught him a tough lesson about trust.
“I learned I will never do anything like that in my life again,” he said.