News 6 helps lotto winners collect $230,000 in frozen funds

Unemployment overpayments still an issue with Florida Commerce Office

ORLANDO, Fla. – A Jacksonville tax preparer, a single mom from Clermont and a chef from the Treasure Coast recently collected a total of $115,000 in lottery cash prizes finally released with the help of News 6 and the Florida Commerce Office.

Since News 6 started assisting Florida Lottery winners in 2021, WKMG-TV and Make Ends Meet has partnered with the Florida Commerce office to reissue $230,000 in lottery prize money.

Tammy Lynch told News 6 she had filed the proper documents with the Florida Department of Commerce Office (formerly Department of Economic Opportunity) to establish she was eligible for unemployment benefits several times but when she went to collect her prize at the state lottery office, her funds were withheld.

“I went in excited, and I was ready to get my money,” Lynch recalled. “And they told me, ‘Hey, your social, your name has been flagged with the unemployment office.’”

Ironically, Lynch, who operates the Arlington Tax Preparation Service in Jacksonville understands the need for employment documents.

“They just want you to send hard documents, tax documents,” Lynch said. “Just to make sure you did qualify for assistance.”

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Once News 6 brought the case to the attention of the Florida Commerce staff, the account was cleared in less than 12 hours and her check for $10,000 in hand just in time for her birthday.

“I’m one of those folks that’s there for other people,” she said. “And I was just blown away how you were there for me.”

Kristy McHugh of Clermont won $5,000 on a Payday scratch-off game in May and was unable to collect her prize because of an unemployment overpayment.

She said a friend told her to contact Mike Holfeld and Make Ends Meet and “He’ll take care of it and get results.”

“It feels like I actually finally won the lottery now‚” she said. “The money will be used for my daughter’s wedding.”

Her check for $5,000 was issued 24 hours after she contacted us.

Finally, the top winner on our getting results list is Patric Reed, a single dad and chef who won a cool $100,000.

His funds were frozen because of a $56 overpayment dating back 2 years.

News 6 got involved and a check for $75,922 after taxes was issued the very next day.

If you have an unemployment or consumer issue email or text the words “make ends meet” at 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.