Band of California lottery scammers dismantled
Chula Vista police and local District Attorney investigators helped Los Angeles authorities break a so-called “Latin lotto scam”, in which four subjects allegedly persuaded at least 10 Hispanic women of age advanced to be given money and other valuables as collateral for charging existing “winning” lottery tickets, authorities said last Monday.
According to court records, a victim in the case of Chula Vista withdrew $ 14,000 from his bank account he planned to give to the suspects before realizing he was probably being scammed.
A federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted the four alleged scammers earlier this month on charges of electronic fraud. The four suspects are Colombian citizens, three women of 38, 43, and 68, and a 49-year-old man, who lived in the Los Angeles area.
One of the defendants was captured in August in San Diego and initially charged in a state court, before those charges were dropped and prosecuted under a federal case.
The accusation specifically charges the quartet with frauds committed against six victims, although authorities say they have linked the group with scams of at least 10 victims in Chula Vista, Long Beach and at least seven other cities in southern California in the past two years.
“Latin lottery scams”
California Lottery officials and judicial agencies throughout the state have issued on these so-called “Latin lottery scams” in the past.
The authorities explain that it is a scheme executed mainly by scammers from Central and South America, aimed at elderly Spanish-speaking US citizens.
The victim of Chula Vista, 74, was approached earlier this year by one of the now detained, who said she was looking for help to collect a winning lottery ticket. Subsequently, another defendant approached both of them claiming to be a social worker who could help.
The woman who claimed to be the social worker called a number supposedly of the winning lottery ticket, the person who answered, a man, told the victim that the ticket was real, but lottery officials needed $ 20,000 in advance before releasing the prize.
The victim agreed to pay a sum of the advance to obtain part of the earnings; However, after the suspects took the older woman to a Wells Fargo bank branch and she withdrew $ 14,000, she realized that it was a scam.
Allegedly, the suspects tried to grab the victim while she was leaving the car in which they were traveling. A witness noticed the situation and ran to help him.
“It is important that we detain these financial predators, especially when targeting elderly victims within the Spanish-speaking community,” said Summer Stephan, San Diego County District Attorney, through a statement.
If convicted, the accused could reach a sentence of up to 20 years in jail.
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