A New York man was lucky enough to win a $50,000 top prize in the record-breaking $1.58 billion Powerball jackpot that sent the nation into frenzy January 13. Unfortunately, he wasn’t as lucky with his choice of friends. According to a report by the New York Daily News, Bronx taxi-cab driver Victor Castillo purchased a winning Powerball ticket and was ready to enjoy his winnings until his friend, Segura Rubelin, allegedly stole the Powerball ticket and tried to cash it as his own. Now, one man has been arrested, and the other is wading through red tape to cash his winning Powerball ticket.
— Action News on 6abc (@6abc) January 27, 2016
Victor Castillo spoke to the New York Daily News to describe his shock and dismay over the betrayal.
“He was my friend, but he is no longer,” Castillo, 66, told the News through an interpreter. “We were like brothers. He betrayed me. I’m still in shock.”
According to the report, Castillo and Rubelin (a fellow taxi-cab drive) were with friends the day after the $1.58 billion Powerball drawing to check their tickets. Castillo saw his ticket matched three of the winning numbers and shouted with excitement that he was winning. It was then that Ruelin allegedly snatched the winning Powerball ticket out of Castillo’s hand, returned to the retailer where it was purchased and tried to pass it off on his own. When Rubelin returned, he handed Castillo a ticket that he tried to convince his friend belonged to him. The second ticket was a winning ticket — however, for $4. Castillo was not fooled, and knew that his friend had stolen his ticket and tried to pass it off on his own.
Unfortunately for Rubelin, the retailer had Victor Castillo’s purchase of the winning Powerball ticket on videotape. That tape has subsequently been handed over to the New York Police Department, who in turn filed grand larceny charges against Rubelin. According to 6ABC News, Castillo also had his original play slip in his possession, giving greater proof that he was the owner of the winning Powerball ticket.
— NYDN Local (@NYDNLocal) January 26, 2016
They say that money changes people and unfortunately, when it comes to the lottery and big jackpot games like Mega Millions and Powerball winners’ stories prove the old adage to be true. The stories of how the lottery changed and even ruined winners’ lives are plentiful and some have come to believe there is a lottery curse.
— WOLF WALL$TREET (@KeepItGulley) January 13, 2016
Lottery winners have a lot to deal with and worry about. They need to figure out how much federal and state taxes to pay; if they will remain anonymous and whether they will take an annuity, cash option, or accept their winnings as a trust. But often, they have another set of problems entirely that centers on who they can trust. While $50,000 is pennies compared to the $1.58 billion that was up for grabs, Castillo’s story shows just how people’s behavior can change when someone comes into money. There are countless stories of lottery winners who faced betrayal from those closest to them. Fortunately for Castillo, his story will have a happier ending than some other lottery winners who found themselves betrayed by those they trusted and loved. With a growing interest in lotteries and the promise of more large jackpots coming to games like Powerball and Mega Millions in the future, more people are concerned about the security, safety and well-being of lottery winners. It seems that as soon as someone finds out a person has won the lottery, they become a target for criminal and violent activity. Craigory Burch Jr., a lottery winner from Georgia, was gunned down in his home two months after winning nearly half a million dollars. His family believes he was targeted for his winning ticket. Florida lottery winner Abraham Shakespeare was generous with his winnings, but his lack of education left him vulnerable. Unable to read, Shakespeare didn’t realize the woman he had trusted to manage his winnings was wasting his assets and finally put a bullet in him and buried him under a slab of concrete in Plant City, Florida. Abraham Shakespeare shows just how quickly someone can go from millionaire lottery winner to murder victim.
There is no question that lottery players need to take their safety into their hands and protect themselves from the moment they purchase their ticket to their lifestyle as a lottery winner. The first step everyone can take to prevent their lottery tickets from becoming stolen is to sign the back of the ticket. You cannot cash a Powerball or other lottery ticket without a photo I.D., and this can prevent other people from stealing your tickets and trying to cash them as their own. Next, be careful who you tell should you have a winning ticket. Like witnessed with Castillo, even someone who seems to be a good and close friend may suddenly turn against you when a large amount of money is at play. If you have a winning ticket, keep your excitement to yourself and be careful who you trust.
Fortunately for Victor Castillo, his case should have a happy ending, and while Rubelin is innocent until proven guilty, Castillo now has custody of his winning ticket and can continue his path to claim his winnings.
[Photo by ChajAmp/Shutterstock]