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Lottery scammer arrested in Ohio

May 31, 2006, 11:12 am

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Patience paid off last week as police nabbed a man they believe used the guise of lottery winnings to scam people out of thousands of dollars.

Issa Rashid Maganga, 35, is being held in the Stark County Jail on three felony charges, while the FBI, U.S. Postal Service and Immigration Naturalization Service look into his activities.

Police arrested Maganga on May 24 after he retrieved two packages from a post office box at the UPS Store at 1937 E. Maple St. Maganga tossed away the packages and tried to run when police approached, but was quickly caught.

His arrest came more than two months after police had been tipped that someone was using the post office box as an address where people could claim lottery winnings, said Lt. Stanley B. Strausser, a North Canton police detective.

West Virginia State Police contacted the North Canton department in mid-March. A woman living in Parkersburg, W.Va., said she sent $2,750 to the post office box after being told she had won a $275,000 lottery. The notice about her winnings had been postmarked in Canada, police were told.

The woman said she sent the money to the North Canton address in early February, but she never received her winnings. Police learned the envelope with the $2,750 had been picked up Feb. 14.

Strausser decided to wait and see if the post office box was used again.

Police told the store operators about the case, Strausser said. "They were very cooperative."

Strausser and detective John R. Minock set up their stakeout after being told that another package had arrived at Maganga's post office box.

As it turned out, a second package arrived before Maganga checked the box. When police arrested Maganga, they said, he had one package with $2,750 sent by an elderly woman from Knoxville, Tenn.

The second package — sent from Canada — contained phony identification with Maganga's photo. He was using the name Jonathan Edison.

It turned out that Maganga used a phony INS card with the name Jonathan Edison to open the post office box, Strausser said. He also had a phony Canadian driver's license with the name.

"He had some very good phony IDs. They were professionally made," Strausser said.

Maganga has told police that he is from Tanzania. Police know he was living in Canton, but staying at more than one residence. He was driving a car he had borrowed.

Police don't know if any other people mailed money to the post office box, Strausser said. That's one reason federal investigators have gotten involved, he said.

North Canton police charged Maganga with two counts of felony theft for the money sent by the women in Parkersburg, W.Va., and Knoxville, Tenn. He also faces a felony count of taking the identity of another because of the fake identification he was carrying.

He is being held on $300,000 bond. His case is pending in Canton Municipal Court.

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