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Lottery scammer who stole thousands from elderly women pleads guilty

Jun 24, 2020, 7:48 am

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Scam AlertScam Alert: Lottery scammer who stole thousands from elderly women pleads guiltyRating:

Exposed fraud ring defrauded 16 known victims in a two and a half-year conspiracy

By Kate Northrop

LOS ANGELES — A Colombian woman who helped a fraud ring execute lottery scams that systematically targeted grandmothers was found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Tuesday, Luisa Camargo, 39, was sentenced to nine months in jail (that she already served) and two years on supervised release. After joining the fraud ring and causing thousands of dollars in losses, she alone will pay $38,069 in restitution as ordered by U.S. District Judge John F. Walter.

She is also subject to deportation, as she was legally admitted to the United States on a tourist visa until August 2010 but remained in the country beyond that date.

Among those initially charged in state court are Tito Lozada, Maria Henao, and Mercedes Montanez. Camargo joined the fraud ring just months before law enforcement ended the charade. In the short amount of time she was working with the scammers, she helped defraud five known victims of her ordered restitution amount, $38,069.

Over the course of two and a half years, the entire fraud ring was responsible for at least $190,422 in losses from 16 known victims.

In an example attempt to con one of their victims, the scammers worked quickly and employed complicated tactics to keep the target confused. The group was known for targeting elderly Latina women between the ages of 64 and 83 who were alone in public. The Los Angeles Police Department dubbed the entire ordeal as the "Latin Lotto Scam."

One scammer would approach the victim claiming that they had a winning lottery ticket but were unable to cash it since they were undocumented. The scammer would then ask the victim to collect the winnings for them but first requested that the victim pay the (fake) fee required to claim the lottery prize. In return, the scammer promised to give the victim a generous portion of the winnings.

At this point, another scammer would "overhear" the conversation and offer money to help pay the supposed fee in a bid to convince the victim that the winning lottery ticket was real. As an added step, another fraudster would be nearby, but out of sight, posing as a lottery official. They would "validate" the ticket over the phone but then falsely claim that the prize can only be claimed with a deposit or fee.

After convincing the victim, the scammers would drive the woman to her home or bank so she could retrieve jewelery, cash, or other items of high value to pay the fake fee. As soon as she hands over her money and valuables to the scammers, they would force her out of the car and drive off.

Police noted that the group approached vulnerable women all throughout various cities including Pacoima, North Hollywood, San Fernando, El Monte, Maywood, Long Beach, Baldwin Park, Hawaiian Gardens, Fontana, Lakewood, San Pedro, and Chula Vista.

They operated like clockwork — the fraud ring aimed to swindle at least four victims a day, looking for potential victims at least four days a week.

"This was an organized group that singled out older women for the sole purpose of ripping off these vulnerable victims with bogus promises of a big payday," U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said after the scammers were charged. "While law enforcement will do everything possible to bring criminals like this to justice, this case should serve as a reminder to potential victims and their family members that no one should ever pay an upfront fee in relation to any prize, sweepstakes or lottery."

The Lottery Post staff wants to reiterate and emphasize Hanna's words — there is no lottery that would ever request a deposit or fee to collect a prize, nor would any official lottery send you an e-mail or text message announcing a prize for a ticket that you never bought.

You can find a detailed list of some examples of common lottery scams at USA Mega.

Lottery Post Staff

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8 comments. Last comment 5 months ago by TheGameGrl.
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Unlucky-Kenny's avatar - Cigar B1.gif
HUDSON, WI
United States
Member #202058
November 7, 2019
1455 Posts
Offline

    Avatar
    Simpsonville
    United States
    Member #163184
    January 22, 2015
    2315 Posts
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    She has no incentive to repay the restitution.  She'll just get deported to that drug ridden country and sneak back in. 

      Avatar
      Chasing $ Millions.
      White Shores- California
      United States
      Member #136473
      December 12, 2012
      6393 Posts
      Offline

      For the Elderly & not so elderly: When someone approaches you and tells you that they have a " winning Jackpot ticket they cannot cash"- raise your index finger, reach for your cellphone & say " My children told me Mama, Papa- there would be days like this* isn't there a song like that?
      They told me that l NEED to contact my kids immediately with this good news if sudden wealth ever crossed my path. They want to HELP me get through this, so before l hand money over to you, they want to be HERE to see that the transaction goes as planned. No need to get the police involved, after all, you have such an honest face, l could see my children paying you double for that ticket. Give a moment while l dial them up. Approve

       * Voice of Reason *   

       

      People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

        Avatar
        Simpsonville
        United States
        Member #163184
        January 22, 2015
        2315 Posts
        Offline

        Pretty sure the Shirelles sang that song you mentioned.

        A few years ago when the IRS fake calls would come in like crazy told one of them I'll meet you in an hour right outside the book store in Louisville airport knowing he couldn't make it from Mumbai.   Other times I'd say I have an NSA enhanced phone (don't) and it gives phone location and grid coordinates.   Never received one of the lottery ones or had one in person...itching for that day to come.

          sully16's avatar - sharan
          25
          President Elect
          Michigan
          United States
          Member #81738
          October 28, 2009
          78080 Posts
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          Slap on the wrist, she'll be back at that or something else.

          TurkeyHappy Thanksgiving.

            grwurston's avatar - Lottery-012.jpg
            Win Today.
            In front of my computer.
            United States
            Member #90247
            April 24, 2010
            9690 Posts
            Offline

            Slap on the wrist, she'll be back at that or something else.

            I Agree!   If any of them get deported, the victims will never see a penny of their money. What I want to know about restitution cases is, how do they work out the payment schedule and what happens if they don't pay it back?

            "You can observe a lot just by watching." Yogi Berra, Hall of Fame baseball player.

            The numbers will tell you what numbers to play. Pay attention to the numbers.

              TheMeatman2005's avatar - lightening
              Brooklyn, NY
              United States
              Member #169719
              October 29, 2015
              1496 Posts
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              I Agree!   If any of them get deported, the victims will never see a penny of their money. What I want to know about restitution cases is, how do they work out the payment schedule and what happens if they don't pay it back?

              Ask Eddie Tipton and his gang of thieves!

              The Meatman 🥩🍗🍔🍖🍤🌭

              “The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it in your back pocket.” Will Rogers

              Winning happens in a flash, Like A Bolt Of Lightning!  Patriot

                TheGameGrl's avatar - Lottery-012.jpg
                A long and winding road
                United States
                Member #17083
                June 10, 2005
                6517 Posts
                Offline

                I Agree!   If any of them get deported, the victims will never see a penny of their money. What I want to know about restitution cases is, how do they work out the payment schedule and what happens if they don't pay it back?

                While it's a court order, the recipient (s) , need to file for the claim to receive. A lien or judgement is then rendered. From there the offender can have wage garnished, property seized, bank account frozen,i or auctioned off. 

                Attempts by the offender to file bankruptcy rarely gets approved. Restitution plans are often signed for and enforced . 

                One case I recall, the guy had to send 1$ consistently for the rest of his life. If he missed even one payment...back to jail.

                I see skies of blue, ..and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.