Police Warn Locals of Lottery Scam

Scam artists offer ‘winning’ lottery ticket for cash
Gilroy – A 67-year-old female resident was scammed out of $20,000 while shopping on 10th Street Monday, police officials said.

The victim was approached in the parking lot of the former K-Mart in Gilroy building by a Hispanic woman in her 20s or early 30s claiming to have a winning lottery ticket she could not cash due to her status as an illegal alien.

According to Morgan Hill police, the scam is usually conducted by two or more persons claiming to have a winning lottery ticket they cannot personally redeem. The stunt is similar to a scam pulled in April, causing a Morgan Hill couple to lose $4,600.

“They offer someone a ticket in exchange for money,” said Cpl. Joseph Crivello of the Gilroy Police Department. “It may be a fake ticket, or an expired ticket … usually a (California) state lottery ticket.”

The one used in Monday’s scam was from the state’s Fantasy Five lottery.

The scam artists offer the ticket to the victim in exchange for less cash than the ticket is supposedly worth, leading the victim to believe that they are making money while helping someone out.

A Hispanic male overheard the conversation between the victim and the female and approached the two offering to check whether it was a winning ticket by calling the lottery commission, said Cmdr. Terrie Booten of the Morgan Hill Police Department.

A third con artist pretending to be a representative from the lottery commission told the victim the ticket was indeed a winner and that a $20,000 good faith deposit was needed.

The two con artists helped escort the victim to banks in Gilroy and Morgan Hill.

After the last transaction in Morgan Hill, the female suspect took the envelope full of money without the victim’s knowledge.

The victim could only describe the three individuals as Hispanic, in their 20s to 30s and Spanish-speaking.

According to police officials, no other victims have come forward.

“This is something that pops up every few months,” Crivello said. “There’s a number on the back of each ticket that you can call to verify (its authenticity).”

Unfortunately, there is no way to recover the lost money unless the con artists are caught.

Anyone who witnesses suspicious activity near shopping plazas and financial institutions is asked to notify local police departments immediately.

“If you question the whole circumstance – don’t do anything,” Booten said. “Call the police department, give us a good description and vehicle description, and what they’re trying to sell you.”

Police officials warn: If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably is.

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