Lottery Scammers Target Valley Spanish Speakers

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Con artists behind a Southland lottery scheme are targeting Spanish speakers in the San Fernando Valley, police said on Thursday.

The scam starts with a pair of suspects approaching a lone victim saying they have a winning lottery ticket but can’t claim the money because they are illegal immigrants, said Officer Gregory Baek of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Victims are offered a share of the winnings if they agree to take the ticket to a lottery outlet, but are also told they must give the scammers something of value to ensure they don’t take off with the money, he said.

Sometimes, the suspects call a third suspect who pretends to be a representative from the state lottery office over the phone, he added.

“The victim was allowed to speak to this person by cell phone to verify the ticket. Sometimes the conversation on the cell phone is by speaker phone,” Baek said.

Victims go home or to the bank to retrieve money or jewelry for the suspects and later find out the ticket isn’t a winner, Baek said.

The suspects were described only as male and female Hispanics in their mid-20s to their late 40s.

The scam has been happening over the last few months in Pacoima, Arleta, Lake View Terrace, Sun Valley and Sunland.

Police urged anyone with information on the scammers, or who may have been a victim, to contact LAPD Foothill Area detectives at (818) 834-3142 or 1-877-LAPD-24-7.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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