BRANDON — The scam seems as cruel as it is simple.
A couple find an elderly person and convinces the person that the couple won the lottery but need a down payment to cash in. After the older person hands over thousands of dollars to help, the couple split.
Hillsborough deputies say it happened at least five times in the past few months, and the victims lost between $1,200 and $9,000 apiece.
Deputies are asking for the public's help in identifying the man and woman behind the scheme. They released a surveillance photo Monday showing the woman after the most recent strike at a CVS store April 11.
She is described as between 22 and 29 years old, about 5 feet 3 and 140 pounds with a medium build, brown eyes and brown hair. The victims, ages 62 to 87, told deputies the woman said she was from Costa Rica.
Deputies describe her partner in crime as a man about 50 to 60 years old, 5 feet 5 to 6 feet tall and 180 pounds with a medium build, brown eyes, gray hair, a full brown beard and noticeably hairy arms.
The first known scam happened at 11:40 a.m. Oct. 29 at a Sun City Center Bank of America, 902 Pebble Beach Blvd. The suspects drove a late-model light blue van.
At 10:30 a.m. Dec. 8, deputies say, they struck again at the 1301 W Brandon Blvd. Denny's restaurant, leaving in a white four-door Nissan Armada.
Then it happened at 1 p.m. Feb. 8 at Wachovia Bank in Sun City Center, 8008 N Pebble Beach Blvd., with an older, four-door silver or dirty white sport utility vehicle.
And then again at 10:10 a.m. Feb. 18 at the Bank of America, 8320 Hanley Road, with a large white van. Finally, at 11 a.m. April 11, the couple hit at the CVS store at 7351 W Hillsborough Ave. and left in a silver newer-model Toyota Rav4.
Anyone with information is asked to call deputies at (813) 247-8200 or report anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477), www.crimestopperstb.com or by texting CSTB plus your tip to C-R-I-M-E-S (274637).