Titusville waitress loses lotto winnings to DEO ‘overpayment’

$825 dollars garnished from $1000 scratch-off ticket prize

TITUSVILLE, Fla. – Lang Vo‘s “Fastest Road to $1 million” lottery cash prize was wiped out as fast as you can say, “Happy Birthday!” thanks to a pending Department of Economic Opportunity overpayment issue.

“It’s a lot of money for me,” the Titusville waitress told News 6. “I feel like they just went into the bank account and just took my money.”

[TRENDING: 21 survive charter plane crash in Texas | Motorcyclist killed when struck by Florida Highway Patrol cruiser | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]

Vo said she won the prize in August but waited to send it in to Tallahassee so she would have money to cover her birthday weekend expenses on Sept. 26.

Instead of a check for $1,000, she received a check for $175 with an explanation that the missing funds were directed to the DEO because of an unemployment benefits overpayment.

Vo has worked the last 17 years for the popular Dixie Crossroads seafood restaurant in Titusville, but last March the entire staff was furloughed because of COVID-19.

“So (in) almost two months we were all out of work,” Vo said. “I received a letter, I think, August (2021) saying I owed $825.”

Vo said members of the restaurant’s staff were getting the same letter for various overpayment amounts from the state, which threatened it would garnish wages to collect the funds.

She appealed her overpayment issue to the DEO, but by Monday her account showed it was still under review.

“So still, to this day, it is still pending yet they’ve already collected the $825,” she said. “I feel like I was robbed.”

Ironically, Governor Ron DeSantis and the DEO issued a request to Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis last week to “indefinitely defer all referrals to collection agencies for all non-fraudulent debts.”

The Governor’s request specifically referred to all weeks from March 1, 2020 to Sept. 4, 2021.

DEO Secretary Dane Eagle said the announcement was designed to “help Floridians elevate above avoidable setbacks in their personal economic recoveries.”

“And it’s hard as it is,” Vo told News 6. “I’m still struggling. Work is still not at full capacity. I have a home, I have a mortgage.”

News 6′s Make Ends Meet team sent her case to a DEO reemployment representative Monday, and less than 24 hours later, Vo sent a very happy text to us:

“I just got a call from the DEO. They will be sending me my refund for $825. Thank you guys so much for making this happen.”

If you have an unemployment issue email makeendsmeet@wkmg.com or text the words make ends meet to 407-676-7428.

Remember to send us a screen shot of your DEO account we need to see claimant number, monetary status and any notes or correspondence from the state regarding your benefits.

Check back here for updates.

About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.