Bobbi Segel, a grandmother from Kissimmee, Florida, won $1,000 in the lottery this year. A state agency had intercepted all her winnings due to what she says is a mistake. Whether Segel has hired an attorney to help her get her winnings back or not is yet to be discovered.
Segel purchased a lottery ticket to test her luck. When she scratched the card to find that she had won $1,000, she was ecstatic. Segel was hoping she could use the winnings to pay for a family trip and repairs to her home, which had been damaged in Hurricane Irma, according to the press.
When Segel visited the Florida Lottery District Office in Orlando to cash in the lottery ticket, it was denied. Segel was told that all her winnings had been intercepted by the state because she owed the Florida Department of Children and Families more than $1,700 from almost thirty years ago.
When Segel called the agency’s office for an explanation regarding the amount she supposedly owed, the agency informed her it was in account of a welfare payment made for one of her children. According to Segel, she has cashed a child support check, but she does not remember ever cashing a welfare check.
Upon asking for further proof, the agency sent her some old paperwork. Apparently, the Department of Health and Rehab Services had overpaid using family grant money during Segel’s daughter’s child support case. Segel reports that she asked the Florida Department of Children and Families representative for any physical proof of a welfare check that she cashed. According to the representative, there was no such check. All they had was the letter that showed Segel’s monthly distribution of $303.
The agency claimed they sent Segel a letter regarding the matter in 1992 to a Tampa P.O. box, but Segel never received it, as she moved around a lot. The agency reportedly admitted that the outstanding balance was a mistake that occurred way back during the 1990s, but Segel’s money has not been returned, sources say. It is not clear whether she will ever get it back without taking legal action.
According to Florida Department of Revenue, the state has collected $483,211 from 474 lottery winnings intercepted this year only. Last year, they collected $1,014,686 from 990 lottery winnings. Up till now, there isn’t any centralized database from where individuals can check if they owe the state any money; the only way to do so would be to contact a local tax office or consult the child support service’s website.
There is no public information regarding how much of this seized money may have been seized in error. For people like Bobbi Segel, whose winnings are often not more than the cost of a lawyer, there are often few choices. The winner can either give up, represent themselves, pay for a lawyer out of principle, or get the press involved in hopes of inciting some action.