‘I thought it was my saving grace:’ DeBary mom loses lotto winnings to DEO overpayment issue

Shawndra Wilson planned to buy Christmas gifts for her 7 kids

DeBARY, Fla. – A DeBary mother is hoping to collect her lotto winnings before Christmas after losing the money because of an issue with unemployment overpayment.

Shawndra Wilson contacted News 6 after seeing our Make Ends Meet report featuring two scratch-off winners who lost their cash for the same reason.

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Wilson said the Christmas holiday was going to be extra special this year. Back in October, she bought two lotto scratch-off tickets and won $2,000.

“It’s been a really hard few months. I thought it was my saving grace,” Wilson said.

She planned to use the money to buy gifts for her seven children. She held onto the tickets until she cashed them in on Tuesday. But instead of walking away with her winnings, she was told Department of Economic Opportunity records show she owed $11,000 for an unemployment overpayment issue.

“Without that, my kids probably won’t have a Christmas. You see there’s no presents under the tree right now,” she said.

Wilson owned her own custom cake business. She said the orders stopped coming in during the pandemic.

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She said she was eligible and collected pandemic unemployment assistance for six months. She said the payments ended when she got a new job.

But Wilson said she didn’t learn about the overpayment until she went to collect her lotto winnings. She said she hasn’t logged into her DEO account in more than a year.

“If people have these overpayments, why aren’t they doing more to contact these people to let them know something’s going on?” Wilson said.

She’s not the only one this is happening to. Several people have contacted News 6 for help after they win the lotto and then the money is gone because of mystery DEO overpayments.

“Send a letter in the mail, make a phone call. Don’t just make a post on a website nobody is checking anymore,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the DEO waived the overpayment issue, but she doesn’t know when she’ll get her lotto winnings.

News 6 reached out and a DEO official said they’re looking into her case.

Wilson is hoping the DEO will lift the hold quickly so she can get the money in time for the holidays.

“I don’t care if it’s Christmas Eve. I could still do shopping with it. That’s my hope. I really hope I can get it before Christmas,” she said.

If you have an unemployment issue, email makeendsmeet@wkmg.com or text the words “Make Ends Meet” to 407-676-7428.