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Press release

July 17, 2012

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July, 2012 | Consumer Protection | Southern California

California Lottery Seeks “Latin Lotto” Scam Artists


Suspects with Fake Lottery Ticket Steal Nearly $40,000 from Elderly Southern California Woman

SACRAMENTO – Investigators from the California Lottery are asking for the public’s help in locating two suspects who succeeded in running a “Latin Lotto” scam on an unsuspecting Southern California woman, taking her for nearly $40,000 in cash and merchandise.

In this recent case, a female suspect approached the victim at a restaurant parking lot and said she had a winning Lottery ticket worth approximately $500,000, but she could not cash it because she was not a U.S. citizen. The female suspect told the victim that if she helped her cash the winning ticket, she would give the victim $40,000 in cash in return. A male suspect then arrived at the location also pretending to help the female suspect cash the ticket. All three then entered a vehicle and the female suspect called someone posing as an attorney. The attorney told the victim she needed to give the female suspect $48,000 worth of cash or valuables as collateral before they cashed in the winning lottery ticket.

The three visited two Wells Fargo banks where the victim withdrew a total of $38,000 and gave it to the female suspect. They also went to a local Macy’s where the victim purchased about $500 worth of clothing for the female suspect. The suspects dropped the victim off at a Michael’s store so she could purchase paper to write a letter to the alleged attorney. The suspects told her that while she bought the paper, they would go buy stamps for the letter. The victim purchased the paper and when she exited the store the suspects were nowhere to be found.

The California Lottery initially discovered details about this case when the elderly victim’s son wrote about the incident on the Lottery’s Facebook page. After stealing the $38,000 from the victim, the scam artists actually went to the victim’s home to continue the scam. That’s when the victim’s home surveillance cameras caught video of the three con artists and the car they were using.

If you have information that could lead to the arrest of the suspects in the surveillance video here, Lottery investigators ask that you call them at 1-800-LOTTERY.

For background, Latin Lotto scams typically target the elderly. Suspects will approach their target in a public place and engage them in conversation. They will then state they have a winning Lottery ticket worth a large amount of money but are unable to cash the ticket because they are not a United State citizen. The con artists will continue with the scam, stating that Lottery officials informed them they need collateral – money, jewelry, or other big ticket items – in order to get their winnings. The victim provides this money and then the con artist vanishes.

Remember, you do not have to be a U.S. citizen to claim a Lottery prize. Also, the California Lottery never requires collateral of any kind up front in order for a prize to be claimed. See a video and a PSA regarding scams involving the Lottery here and here.

The mission of the California Lottery is to provide supplemental funding to California schools while simultaneously supporting local communities. More than 94 cents of every dollar spent by our players goes back to local communities in the form of contributions to public schools and colleges, prizes and retail compensation. Since 2000, Lottery players have contributed $1 billion to public schools each year, and, since we began in 1985, Lottery players have contributed a total of more than $24 billion to education. The California Lottery urges its customers to play responsibly and within their budgets. If you feel you have a gambling problem, or know someone who does, you can get help at 1-800-GAMBLER.

See More Press Releases: July, 2012 | Consumer Protection | Southern California