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Woman faces charge tied to lottery fraud

BEMIDJI – An 18-year-old woman who worked for a local convenience store is accused of illegally obtaining about $2,400 in fraudulent lottery winnings.

Payton Lynzee Church has been charged with felony state lottery fraud, claiming a prize by fraud/deceit. She is scheduled to appear Monday in Beltrami County District Court before Judge Shari Schluchter.

According to the criminal complaint:

Investigators conducted surveillance on Church while she was working at JackStop convenience store because the owner suspected she was committing fraud of the Minnesota State Lottery system.

On Dec. 5, investigators watched through the in-store surveillance system as Church removed a roll of scratch-off lottery tickets, scratched off the individual ticket bar codes and scanned them into the lottery scanning machine, the complaint alleges.

She then removed tickets from the dispenser and scratched off several winning tickets, the complaint states. At no point did she attempt to pay for the tickets.

Court papers also state she then redeemed $190 worth of winning tickets. Investigators arrested Church after she redeemed the tickets. At the jail, she admitted to committing fraud on the state lottery system and illegally obtaining about $2,400 between late November and Dec. 5.