Lotto ticket winners in Jacksonville, Ocala lose money to DEO overpayments

Instead of cash, winners were handed ‘special circumstances’ lotto form

OCALA, Fla. – Two Florida men in two different cities each won $1,000 playing lottery tickets then lost the cash prizes to the Department of Economic Opportunity the day they went to collect their holiday cash.

Jerry Kirkpatrick, a self-employed handyman from Ocala, and John Moore, a manager for Battalion Airsoft Arena in Jacksonville, are the latest lotto players caught in an unemployment overpayment issue.

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John Moore told News 6 he went to collect the prize with his 12-year-old son at the lottery office in Jacksonville after his Whole Lotta 500s scratch-off ticket hit for $1,000.

Instead of cash, they were handed a “special circumstances” lotto form.

“I’m like, ‘What in the world?’ Like, it’s close to Christmas. I could use $1,000,” a frustrated Moore said. “The day before they took my ticket, they (DEO) were asking me to claim benefits.”

Moore said his DEO account was active in 2020 when he collected benefits for about three months, but he had not used the account since.

“It doesn’t say I owe them a dollar,” Moore told News 6. “It doesn’t say anything about owing them anything.”

Moore was told he owed $1,200, while Kirkpatrick told News 6 he was told he owed $3,000 to cover an unemployment overpayment to the DEO.

“It was some back taxes that they were looking for,” Kirkpatrick said. “They were investigating a possible overpayment.”

A DEO letter to Kirkpatrick clearly indicates the overpayment issue had been waived.

After News 6 contacted the DEO in Tallahassee, the mystery for both cases was resolved quickly.

Moore received a call from the DEO saying the whole matter will be cleared up once he presents them with Social Security information.

Kirkpatrick received a call and was told to resend his tax documents for the matter to be resolved, as well.

If you have an unemployment issue email or text the words Make Ends Meet and your issue to 407-676-7428

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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.