Latin Lotto Scams

October 4, 2007

Los Angeles: Wilmington and the surrounding Harbor Areas are experiencing a high number of crimes involving lotto scams.

The suspects approach the victims and claim they have a winning Lotto ticket in their possession. During their encounter, one of the suspects calls an unknown person on speakerphone and asks the person on the other line if they have the winning ticket. The person on the other line verifies that the suspects are indeed winners and tells them they need to be legal residents in order to claim their money. The suspects ask the victims to help them cash the Lotto ticket stating they cannot do it themselves, because they are in the country illegally.

The victims agree to help and provide the suspects with good faith money, which they obtain by going to their banks, or in some instances by going to their homes. After the suspects have obtained the good faith money, they ask the victims to run an errand for them. When the victims exit the suspects’ vehicle, the suspects drive away with the victims’ money.

There have been four reported crimes this month and all of the victims have been Spanish-speaking elders.

The suspects vary in gender and age, but they are always Spanish speakers. The suspects have been known to work in pairs of males or male and female. The amount of money asked by the suspects has varied from one thousand dollars and up to ten thousand dollars.

In one occasion, the suspects were seen driving a newer model, gray four-door Toyota. The suspects have also been seen driving in a tan sports utility vehicle and a light-colored Plymouth Voyager minivan.

Anyone with information regarding any of these crimes, or believe to be a victim of a lotto scam, call Harbor Area Burglary Detective Wusbaldo Batres, at 310-522-2028. On weekends or during off-hours call the 24-hour toll free number at 1-877-LAWFULL (529-3855).