Friday, August 14, 2015

Deputies Investigating Lottery Scam

An elderly Golden Gate couple told deputies they were swindled out of a large sum of cash Thursday by two people who promised to share lottery winnings with them.  

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is cautioning the community about a popular lottery scam in light of this most recent incident.

This scam usually targets Hispanics. The suspect approaches the victim and says he or she is having trouble cashing in a Florida Lottery ticket due to being in the country illegally. The suspect tells the victim there are fees or taxes that need to be paid up front. At some point a second suspect appears as a third party who overheard the conversation and agrees to give some of the money toward the fees if the victim will give the rest. Once the victim has handed over money the two suspects disappear.

Sheriff’s reports gave this account of Thursday’s incident:

The 76-year-old man and his 92-year-old wife said they were at the Grand Buffet restaurant, 2700 U.S. 41 E. in East Naples, when they were approached by two men who claimed to have won $500,000 in the lottery.

The men explained they couldn’t cash the ticket because they didn’t have legal citizenship status. They asked the couple for cash in exchange for the ticket and the couple agreed.

The couple rode with the men to two different banks and withdrew large sums of cash, which the couple placed into an envelope. One of the men began complaining of stomach pain and asked the couple to go inside Kmart, 4955 Golden Gate Parkway, Golden Gate, to buy him medication.

When the couple came back out of the store, the men were gone, leaving the couple in the store parking lot. The couple also discovered that at some point the men had emptied the cash from the envelope. 

The couple told detectives that one of the men was described as Hispanic, in his late 20s, 5 feet 8 inches tall and about 180 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. The other man was described as Hispanic, about 35 years old with dark skin, 5 feet 10 inches tall and 160 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. Their vehicle was described as possibly a gray Nissan sedan.

An investigation continues.

CCSO reminds the public that immigration status does not prevent anyone from cashing a Florida Lottery ticket. In addition, any taxes due are deducted from the winnings.

Anyone with information should call the Collier County Sheriff’s Office at 239-252-9300, or if you wish to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477).