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Lottery scammer busted by Border Patrol

Apr 26, 2006, 6:50 pm

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A woman accused in Illinois and Florida scams and featured on the TV show "America's Most Wanted" was arrested in El Paso, Texas, a report said Wednesday.

Maria Gomez, 49, was among 16 illegal aliens U.S. Border Patrol agents detained when they were spotted crossing a river near the U.S.-Mexican border.

The high-profile arrest occurred Monday evening when Border Patrol agents witnessed a group of people crossing the river four miles from the Zaragoza Bridge, trying to sneak into the United States illegally.

Gomez is "one of three suspected con artists who tricked the elderly into giving them money to cash fake lottery tickets in Illinois," Border Patrol officials said in a written release.

The scam targeted elderly Latino residents in Wheaton, Ill.  Gomez stole more than $10,000 to cash fake lottery tickets, authorities said.

The woman also is accused in a similar scam in Hialeah, Fla.

A fingerprint check revealed the outstanding Illinois warrant for the woman featured on the Fox TV program last month.

"She was turned over to the El Paso Police Department to the warrants division and she is being houses at the El Paso County Detention Facility pending extradition to Illinois," said Romero Cordero, with the El Paso Border Patrol.

A woman accused in Illinois and Florida scams and featured on the TV show

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