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Woman loses $4,500 to lottery scam

TEMPLE TERRACE — Police called for the public's help Thursday in identifying two women they say conned another woman out of $4,500 this month after assuring her they had won $250,000 in the Florida Lottery.

On Aug. 13, two Hispanic females asked a woman at a shopping center on 56th Street for a ride to an immigration office in the area, police said.

On the way, one woman told the victim she had recently won the lottery but couldn't cash the ticket because she was an undocumented immigrant.

Detective Carlos Lopez said the women told the victim they knew someone who could skirt officials and cash the ticket even though they weren't citizens, but they had to put up a significant amount of "good faith" money to prove the ticket was legitimate.

They told the woman they had several thousand dollars but needed more. They asked her for $25,000. She offered $4,500, which she withdrew from her Bank of America account and put in an envelope.

The women put the envelope in the victim's glove compartment "for safekeeping," Lopez said, which is when "the switch" probably occurred. When the woman retrieved the envelope later, it contained only scraps of cutup newspaper, and the two women were gone.

The first one is described as a Hispanic, 20 to 30 years old, 5 feet to 5 feet 5, 110 to 120 pounds, with a slender build, brown hair and brown eyes. Police said she was wearing a beige blouse, beige pants and a beige baseball cap.

The second woman is described as a 20- to 30-year-old Hispanic, 5 feet to 5 feet 3, 130 to 140 pounds, with a medium build and brown hair with blond streaks. Police said she was wearing a white blouse, blue jeans and a gold bracelet on her right wrist.

The two are wanted on charges of grand theft and a scheme to defraud. Lopez said he does not know if there are other victims.

"Usually when people do this, they do it constantly. There may be other victims out there who haven't stepped forward," Lopez said. "Victims get embarrassed at the fact of, 'Hey, I got taken,' you know?"

Anyone with information is asked to call Lopez at (813) 989-7049.

Woman loses $4,500 to lottery scam 08/28/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 29, 2008 4:05pm]
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