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Two wanted in lottery ticket scam

Suspects may have tried to bilk woman out of money in Lodi Kmart parking lot

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Posted: Thursday, October 28, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 6:30 am, Thu Oct 28, 2010.

As part of an ongoing scheme, two Hispanic suspects attempted to dupe a Lodi woman out of possibly thousands of dollars at Kmart on Oct. 18.

According to Officer Leo Ramirez of the Lodi Police Department, a 60- to 65-year-old Hispanic female and a 40-year-old Hispanic male attempted to get the victim to give up money in exchange for a phony winning lottery ticket. The woman, who was not identified, felt uneasy about the whole situation and declined to take part, then reported it to police on Oct. 19.

The confidence scheme involves one perpetrator (in this case the female) approaching a stranger in a parking lot and asking for help involving a possible winning lottery ticket. The perpetrator then invites a passerby (who is actually involved in the scam) into the conversation. The passerby calls somewhere to supposedly verify that the ticket is a winner, and receives fake confirmation.

The perpetrator with the ticket fabricates some reason why they cannot cash the ticket themselves (in this case, the perpetrator said she was an undocumented immigrant and was ineligible to win the prize), and attempts to get the victim to buy the ticket from them.

The same group of people have been attempting this same scheme since at least 2002, Ramirez said, with a significant level of success. The suspects have gotten as much as $4,000 from a victim in the past, and Ramirez said there have been at least a dozen cases he can remember, with likely many more unreported.

“I bet for every case on file, there’s been quite a few more (unreported),” Ramirez said.

The suspects specifically target Spanish-speaking Hispanic victims, and frequent large store parking lots such as those at Kmart and Walmart. They never stay in the same place for long, Ramirez said, and hit various Northern California cities along Highway 99.

Contact reporter Fernando Gallo at fernando@lodinews.com.

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