Father and son, Ali Jaafar, 63, and Yousef Jaafar, 29, from Watertown in Boston, have been sentenced in Massachusetts’ largest lottery fraud scheme to date. They were found guilty of conspiring to defraud the IRS and launder money. The scheme, known as “ten-percenting,” involved cashing in more than 14,000 winning lottery tickets.
Between 2011 and 2020, the Jaafars engaged in the practice of “ten-percenting,” where they purchased winning tickets from individuals for around 90% of their value in cash. They would then claim the prize money as their own, reporting it on their income tax filings while offsetting it with fabricated gambling losses. This allowed them to avoid federal income taxes and receive tax refunds.
Court filings reveal that the Jaafars, along with another son named Mohamed, took in over $2 million using tickets worth a combined $20 million. They gained approximately $1.2 million in tax refunds through this scheme.
The Massachusetts State Lottery Commission became suspicious of the Jaafars’ unusually high number of winnings, which were statistically improbable. Mathematicians for the commission estimated that to achieve such frequent wins through ordinary luck, one would need to purchase 22,859 tickets per day.
To access their 14,000 winning tickets, the Jaafars operated a network through state convenience stores. Clerks would notify them whenever a significant winning ticket was sold. Despite occasionally paying others to cash the tickets for them, the Jaafars became recognizable figures at lottery offices.
Mohamed, who attempted to leave the scheme in 2019, accepted a plea deal during the trial.
As a result of the investigation, the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission revoked and suspended over 40 lottery licenses across the state. Ali Jaafar was sentenced to five years in prison, while Yousef Jaafar received a 50-month sentence. They are required to repay their ill-gotten gains and pay $6 million in restitution to the IRS.
The case has cost federal taxpayers more than $6 million, according to the Department of Justice.