Watch Out for This Crazy Latin Lotto Scam

Categories: Crime
It's not just the Asian community being scammed out of jewelry and cash. San Francisco police are now reporting a trend of Latina women being duped into cleaning out their bank accounts.

According to Officer Albie Esparza, two women -- both Spanish-speaking -- have already reported being victims of what police are calling the "Latin Lotto Scam." The first incident happened on Aug. 16, when the victim, who is in her 50s, handed over $8K in cash and jewelry to the crooks who tricked her with faux lotto tickets.

See Also: More Victims Duped by Weird Asian Ghost Scam
Esparza says the victim was at 18th and Capp streets when another female approached her and said she needed help; specifically, the suspect claimed she needed to get back to her country of Belize because her mother was very sick.

The suspect also claimed she had won $200,000 from lottery scratchers and was in the U.S. illegally. She told the victim she would give her $20,000 if she helped her collect the prize. A second suspect approached the victim and convinced her to withdraw cash from her bank as collateral. The victim did as instructed -- and sadly -- also gave the suspects her jewelry.

The suspects offered the victim a ride to get the money, and once the transaction was complete, they told her to get out of the car. Then they drove off, police said.

The suspect vehicle in this incident was described as a white four-door, possibly 2005 or 2008 Toyota. One suspect was described as a Hispanic female, around 30 years old. She is 5 feet tall, weighing about 140 pounds. She had slicked-back hair and goes by the name of "Tatiana." She said she was from Belize.

Police said there was also a Hispanic male suspect who went by "Javier." He is described as 35 to 45 years old, about 5-foot-10, weighing 175 pounds.

The second incident happened on Sept. 10, when a different suspect approached a Spanish-speaking woman at 24th Street and Potrero Avenue. The suspect grabbed the victim by her arms and frantically told her that she needed help. The suspect said she had a winning lottery ticket and needed help collecting the full $250,000 prize.

The female suspect and a "passerby" used the same M.O., convincing the victim to give them $2,000 cash. The victim got in the car with the suspects, who drove her to the money and valuables. The victim also gave the suspects the jewelry she was wearing before getting out of the car.

In this case, the suspects got away with $2,000 in cash and $1,700 in jewelry, Esparza said.

This vehicle was described as a black Hyundai SUV. The suspects were described as Hispanic females, between 35 and 40 years old. One was about 5-foot-10, weighing 150 pounds, with shoulder-length hair and dark skin. That suspect stated she was from Ecuador. There was also a Hispanic male accompanying them. He was between 35 and 40 years old, 6-foot-1, weighing about 200 pounds. He claimed to be from El Salvador.

From the SFPD:

The Latin Lottery Scam is typically run by con artists from Latin American countries. These con artists use fake or altered California lottery tickets in the scam. Information provided by law enforcement agencies and state lottery commissions indicate that these con artists travel between different states committing the Latin lottery scam on Spanish-speaking citizens.

The victim is typically an elderly woman, living alone with Spanish being her first language. Elderly males and some younger females have also been victimized. Victims are told to put up cash or jewelry in order to share the prize. The accomplice or second suspect, acting as a passerby, will use fake cash or jewelry as a sign of good faith.
Now here are some tips on how to avoid becoming a victim:

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