Two people duped elderly shoppers with an offer that seemed too good to be true. Turns out it was.
Gloria and Hector Ortiz were shopping at a Publix in Weston when a woman approached them with what seemed like a way to make some fast money.
She told the two 82-year-olds she was in the country illegally from Costa Rica, and asked them to cash a winning lottery ticket worth $130,000.
Then, she asked the couple for a deposit of $15,000 that she would give back -- along with a share of the winnings -- once they cashed the ticket.
But instead of paying up, the woman took off with the couple's money.
"If you're ever approached at a supermarket and they tell you they have a winning lottery ticket for you to cash, look away and notify authorities," said Broward Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Liz Calzadilla said.
"It's very likely a scam."
The Ortizes, who are Cuban, apparently found out too late.
"We feel like we're dying," Gloria Ortiz said in a telephone interview. "It hurts your heart when you think it would have been something good and it turns out to be bad."
On Thursday, BSO deputies released surveillance photographs of the woman who duped the Weston couple. BSO is asking for the public's help in finding her.
Here's how the scam worked, according to police: On Tuesday morning, the woman approached the couple in the grocery store at 294 Indian Trace.
She told them she couldn't cash the ticket because she wasn't a legal resident. She showed the couple a counterfeit lottery ticket with winning Fantasy 5 numbers and a newspaper clipping that supposedly proved it.
In exchange, she asked the couple for $15,000 as a security deposit, saying she needed it to complete a $30,000 down payment on a home purchase.
A man joined the woman and the couple outside Publix, and they agreed to meet at a nearby Wachovia bank.
There, the couple withdrew $15,000 from the bank as a cash advance on their Wachovia MasterCard credit line.
Then, the elderly couple invited the suspects to their home for lunch.
The suspects agreed.
But instead of following the couple as they discussed, the suspects fled with the dough.
Hector Ortiz said a BSO deputy informed them on Thursday that they won't have to pay the money back.
The female suspect, who is Hispanic, is believed to be between 40 and 45 years old. She is described as 5-foot-4 and weighing about 150 pounds.
She had a cut on her lower lip. The Hispanic man who accompanied her is believed to be about 5-foot-2 and in his early 20s.
Anyone with information is asked to call Broward CrimeStoppers at 954-493-8477.