Oct 11, 2004, 5:58 pm
It seemed like an easy way to make a lot of money.
A Brentwood woman was offered $5,000 to cash in a winning lottery ticket. Instead, the woman lost more than $5,000 of her money, hoodwinked by con artists in a popular scam that often targets Spanish-speaking immigrants.
The woman, who police identified only as about 35 years old and a Spanish speaker, was walking on Suffolk Avenue in Brentwood on Tuesday when she was approached by a Spanish-speaking woman who asked for help in locating an address. Then a man approached and offered the women a ride, said Third Squad Det. Sgt. Mark Maieli. They got into a small, blue four-door car with a black interior that had another man inside.
The woman began to talk about a winning lottery ticket worth more than $100,000 that she was unable to cash because she had only recently arrived in the country. The woman offered the victim $5,000 to cash the ticket for her, but asked her to put up some of her own money "as a sign of good faith," Maieli said. He said the woman asked for more than $5,000. She was driven to a bank where the others waited outside. After withdrawing the money, she returned to find them sitting in a different car, a small, four-door red vehicle, Maieli said. The victim gave the woman the money and the woman took out the $5,000 she had promised her, putting the money together and placing it in a sock. The woman tied the sock into a tight knot and then placed it into her pocketbook for "good luck" she told the victim, Maieli said.
Before they were supposed to cash the lottery ticket, the victim asked to be taken to her house. When they arrived, the woman pulled the sock from her pocketbook and gave it to the victim as a sign of trust. Once inside her house, the victim opened the sock and found only newspaper strips. She went back outside, but the suspects had left.
Maieli said the scam is common, particularly in Hispanic communities where victims often let down their guard when approached by those who claim to hail from their home countries. A similar scam cost a 40-year-old woman in Massapequa $3,000 a week ago, according to Nassau police.
"They're preying on immigrants who don't speak English well," Maieli said. "It's easier for to feel like they're befriended by someone if they're speaking in their native tongue."
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.
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