It sounds like something out of a Coen brothers film: two convenience store owners sell a $5 million-winning lottery ticket to one of their customers, and after convincing the customer it was only for five thousand, they pay him off, pocket the ticket, and wait five years to claim the prize–until shortly before the scratch-off was set to expire. When they finally try to cash in, the cops are waiting for them and arrest them for their crimes.

Such is the story of Andy and Nayel Ashkar, the two Syracuse brothers who were arrested and charged with larceny and conspiracy this month. When they came in to claim the prize, the police were onto them already and conducting an investigation. And in an effort to get the real winner to come forward, New York Lottery planted a story about the Ashkars, which was picked up and run front-page by Syracuse Post-Standard.

In the end, article was successful: the swindled buyer of the winning ticket came forward, and will be able to claim his prize.

(Photo: litherland/Flickr)