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Man who claimed $135,000 win with misprint ticket gets 'payment' but not dream

TORONTO - An Ontario man hoping to cash in on misprinted scratch-and-win lottery tickets won't be showing off his happy dance after all.

TORONTO - An Ontario man hoping to cash in on misprinted scratch-and-win lottery tickets won't be showing off his happy dance after all.

Following a week of sleepless nights believing he'd be paid $135,000 for an error made by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., Thomas Noftall learned Wednesday he'll receive a financial settlement for his grief - but not the full prize.

Emerging with his lawyer after a meeting with officials at OLG's Toronto headquarters, Noftall said the rules were explained to him, and he acknowledged he did not have any winning tickets.

"I understand the rules now. We've sat down and we've spoke and gone over the rules several times," said Noftall, who entered into an agreement not to disclose the payment amount.

"I've come to the conclusion that I didn't win - it wasn't my dream."

As many as 1,100 misprinted Fruit Smash scratch-and-win lottery tickets selling for $3 each were in circulation in Ontario before being recalled. OLG is now pulling its remaining Fruit Smash cards from all stores in the province.

The lottery corporation said a small portion of the three million Fruit Smash tickets had some misaligned or mismatched symbols underneath the latex surface that players scratch away.

The misprinted tickets were pulled from stores the same day the first complaint was received, and it's estimated only 50 to 150 of the tickets were actually sold.

While some 15 people have called the OLG to complain about misleading tickets, CEO Kelly McDougald called Noftall's case "unique."

The 27-year-old from Brampton, Ont., had talked with an employee at the lottery call centre and was told he would be paid despite the fact the ticket was a misprint, she said.

"(The financial settlement) was in respect of a miscommunication that we had made to him," she said.

"In recognition of the grief that that caused him over the last few days, we've reached and acknowledged a settlement with him."

The ticket bar code below the scratch surface - which is scanned in-store - is the only definitive way to confirm a winner, McDougald said. As well, if a ticket is misprinted it is considered void.

An OLG review of the other complaints suggests "there's been no other miscommunication," McDougald said, but added that further complaints will be investigated individually.

Believing he'd be paid the full amount, Noftall - who's originally from St. John's, N.L. - had planned to make a down payment on a home and pay off debts and child support.

He said he was worn down fretting over how to handle the situation and had even been prepared to sue the lottery corporation if necessary.

"I'm happy that they've taken the time to help me resolve this - very, very happy," he said, though his weary and unsmiling demeanour seemed to suggest otherwise.

But the fiasco doesn't mean Noftall will stop playing lotteries; he said he's already picked up a Lotto 6-49 ticket.

"I think me and my family are going to be happy," he said. "I'm going home to sleep."

In efforts to ensure no similar problems arise in the future, McDougald said the OLG will further educate its call-centre employees on policy and meet with its printers immediately, she said.

There were three prizes each of $75,000, $25,000 and $10,000 up for grabs with the Fruit Smash tickets. Two people have already claimed the top prizes.

The odds of winning any of those top prizes are one in a million, while the odds of winning any of the 848,369 lesser prizes with Fruit Smash tickets are one in 3.54, according to the OLG.

The OLG says the misprint error is "extremely rare," and there are extensive quality control and assurance procedures at various stages of the ticket printing process.

 
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