Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lottery Scam In East Naples

A 77-year-old woman was duped out of cash after deputies say a woman pretending to have a winning lottery ticket approached her at an East Naples Wal-Mart on Monday and pitched a bogus story about needing her help to cash it in.

Collier County Sheriff’s Office reports gave this account:

The victim was shopping at Wal-Mart, 3451 U.S. 41 E., around 2 p.m. when she was approached by a woman who asked her if she knew of a community organization that could help her get her green card. Another woman approached them and offered to help.

The two women asked the victim for a ride. Once inside the victim’s vehicle, the woman who had initially approached the victim displayed a lottery ticket, saying she thought she had won.

The victim then drove into a parking lot off of U.S. 41 East, where one of the women called “the lottery commission” to verify that the ticket was a winner. The women put the call on speaker phone.

A male voice on the other end of the line stated that because the ticketholder was in the country illegally she could not cash the ticket, but two people could vouch for her by putting up $50,000 each. For vouching for the lottery winner, the victim would receive $14,000. The $50,000 was to prove to the lottery commission that the winner would not be ripped off by the people vouching for her.

The victim was having car problems, so she got into a light gray sport utility vehicle with the two suspects. The suspects drove the victim to the Wachovia bank at the intersection of Rattlesnake Hammock Road and U.S. 41 East, East Naples, where the victim withdrew an undisclosed amount of cash.

The suspects then drove the victim to Bank United, 4412 Thomasson Drive, East Naples, where the victim attempted to withdraw an undisclosed amount of cash, but was prevented from doing so by bank employees.

The victim returned to the suspects’ SUV, where she told them she was not able to withdraw more money.

The victim had placed an envelope containing the money she withdrew from the first bank on the seat next to her. One of the suspects switched the envelope with the money with one containing paper.

The victim left the SUV and re-entered Bank United at which time say she discovered the theft.

Detectives said the first suspect is described as Hispanic, 25 to 30 years old, around 5 feet 5 inches tall with a thin build and blond hair. The other suspect is described as Hispanic, 35 to 40 years old, around 5 feet 8 inches with a thin build and black hair.

An investigation continues.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Collier County Sheriff’s Office at 774-4434, or if you wish to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780- TIPS (8477)