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A Columbian woman was found guilty of helping a fraud ring execute lottery scams that quite systematically targetted grandmothers. Luisa Camargo, 39, was sentenced to nine months in jail and two years on supervised release. After joining the fraud ring and stealing thousands of dollars, she alone will have to pay $38,069 in restitution as ordered by U.S. District Judge John F. Walter.
The fraudster is also subject to deportation as she entered the United States on a tourist visa until August 10, but remained in the country beyond the stipulated time.
Among those who were initially charged with forgery include Mario Henao, Mercedes Montanez, and Tito Lozada. Months later Camargo joined the fraud ring, she helped defraud five known victims of approximately $38,069. Over two and a half years the entire fraud ring cammed at least $190,422 from 16 known victims. The group was known for targeting elderly Latina women, who are alone in public, between the ages of 64 and 83. This entire tribulation was dubbed as “Latin Lotto Scam” by the Los Angeles Police Department.
The scam would work by approaching the victim, claiming that they had won a lottery but are unable to cash it since they were undocumented. The scammer would then urge the victim to collect the winnings on their behalf but first asked to pay fake fees required to claim the lottery prize. In short building trust, in the sense that scammers are real winners and wish to have security for their winnings. In return, the scammer assured the victim to give a generous portion of the winnings. As an added step to the scam, another fraudster would stand near to the victim, posing as a lottery official. They would validate the winning ticket over the phone but then falsely condition it that the prize can only be claimed with a deposit or fee. After the victim gets convinced the scammers would drive the woman to a bank or home so that she could retrieve cash, jewelry, or any other item of high value to pay the frauding fee. As soon as the woman would hand over the money of any valuable thing, the scammers would force her out of the car and drive off.
The police notified that the fraud ring approached vulnerable women throughout cities including North Hollywood, San Fernando, Hawaiian Gardens, Fontana, Lakewood, San Pedro, Maywood, Long Beach, Baldwin Park, Pacoima, and Chula Vista. The U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna reported that it was an organized fraud group that singled out women of an elderly age for the sole purpose of ripping off these vulnerable victims with bogus promises of a big payday. The Lottery Lab urges the lottery players not to fall prey to lottery scams especially amid COVID-19 pandemic.
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