Three men are accused of scamming a $3 million New York lottery winner out of his fortune by convincing him he would face deportation if he tried to collect his prize, according to Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe.
Atif Ali, 28, of Spring Valley, Riaz Khan, 45, of Monroe, and Mubeen Ashraf, 23, of Monroe are charged with first-degree grand larceny.
The scam, Zugibe said, started on Feb. 3, at 11:30 p.m., when the victim bought New York State Lottery tickets at a convenience store in Spring Valley. Among those tickets was a big winner, worth $3 million.
Ali, who was a clerk at the store, contacted Ashraf and Khan, the former owner of the convenience store, and Zugibe said they conspired to keep the victim from claiming his prize. Zugibe said they convinced the winner he could be immediately deported by the U.S., and they convinced the winner to give his ticket to Ali.
"This alleged crime is particularly egregious as the defendants are accused of targeting a hard-working immigrant," Zugibe said. "These defendants are con men who preyed upon the innocent victim using fear and threats of deportation. They are now charged with having been motivated by greed in committing this blatant extortion of thousands of dollars in lottery winnings."
Ali is accused of claiming he was the owner of the winning ticket and collecting the first of 20 annuitized prize payments totaling $150,000.
Zugibe said Ali, Ashraf and Khan were able to obtain another $600,000 through an advance from a funding company, with the money deposited directly into a bank account that was opened specifically to hold the stolen money.
The victim, a Spring Valley man who now lives elsewhere in the county, did not get any money.
This week, a temporary restraining order was issued in state Supreme Court in New City, freezing the bank account holding the stolen funds.
The arrests came about from an investigation by the Rockland County Special Investigations Unit, the Spring Valley Police Department and the New York State Lottery.
Ali, Khan and Ashraf are being held in the Rockland County Correctional Facility in New City pending court hearings. Khan and Ashraf are each being held on $250,000 bail, with Ali held without bail.
Zugibe said they each face a maximum of 25 years in state prison, if convicted. Prosecutors said the victim does not face any deportation actions.
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