Friday, October 19, 2012
Lottery Ticket Scammers Prey on Seniors in San Pedro NR12483cjLos Angeles: On October 17, 2012, around 11:00 a.m., a man described as an 80-year-old male Hispanic approached an elderly male near 10th Street and Gaffey Street in San Pedro and asked for assistance in cashing a winning lottery ticket. He claimed that he couldn't cash the ticket because he lost his identification and passport. Shortly after another man described as a 70-year-old Hispanic, working in tandem with the 80-year-old, drove up in a dark colored sports utility vehicle and asked the two men if everything was okay. The man in the SUV pretended to call lottery officials to verify the story.
The man in the car convinced the elderly bystander that story was credible and assured him that he was going to assist and provide money. They convinced the victim that the person cashing the ticket needed to have money in their account and good credit. They told the victim that the lottery officials wanted the documentation notarized. The victim and the 70-year-old suspect got into the SUV driven by the second suspect and drove to the victim’s residence.
The victim retrieved a large sum of money from his residence and returned to the suspect’s car. The suspects drove the victim to a notary and advised him to go inside. The victim exited the suspect’s car and the suspects drove off with the victim's money.
On October 18, 2012, around 10:45 a.m., a man described as a 30-year-old male Hispanic approached a 57 year-old female Hispanic near 8th Street and Bandini Street in San Pedro. The man said that he was from Ecuador and needed help. Another person described as a 30-year-old female Hispanic, working in tandem with the male, also walked up to the victim.
The male suspect told the bystander that he had a lottery ticket and asked his accomplice to call lottery officials to see if it was a winning ticket. She pretended to call and confirmed that it was a winning ticket. She then gave the phone to the victim allowing her to speak with a third accomplice on the telephone. The person on the phone, a female, told the victim that she would receive $9,000.00 for helping the victim.
The male suspect male then told the victim that if she gave him some money that she would in return get $9,000.00 for her assistance. The victim agreed on providing $2,000.00. The second suspect drove the victim to her bank in a dark colored SUV. While at the bank the victim told a bank employee the reason she was withdrawing the money. The bank employee alerted the victim that it was a scam. The bank employee told officers that there are other incidents that have occurred under similar circumstances.
The lottery ticket scheme involves a crew of con artists who appear to not know each other and corroborate the initial suspect's story. The con artists work this way to add credibility to their scheme in the eyes of the victim. There are many variations of reasons for not being able to cash the lottery ticket including being an illegal alien, underage, needing the money urgently before it can be provided by lottery officials, or being a convicted felon. The suspects have been targeting Spanish speaking and/or elderly victims. They are also asking intrusive information regarding their finances to determine their account balances.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call Harbor Division, Burglary Section, Detective Maurice Graham at 310-726-7852. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on "webtips" and follow the prompts.