It's called the Mexican Lottery Scam and an elderly Kress couple are the latest victims. The scam is a new, slightly different version of a scam we've seen on the South Plains before. Here's how it works, two Latin Americans, usually a man and a woman, approach you in a public place and ask for your help. What's in it for you? A portion of the proceeds they're about to get from a winning lotto ticket.
That deal sounded good Monday, to a friendly couple from Kress. The persuasion skills of con-artists cost the elderly couple $2,300. It all started at their local grocery store where they were approached by a Hispanic man and woman. The victim, who we'll call "Anne" in order to keep her identity concealed, says, "He said how much money do you have? and my husband said I don't have no money and next question he said how much money in your bank?"
Little did Anne know, she and her husband were about to fall victim to the Mexican Lottery Scam. In the scam, the victim is approached by two people, one claiming to have a winning lotto ticket. The catch... he can't claim his prize because he's not a citizen. Anne says, "That lady said we have a lot of money to give you so you can help us."
The woman claimed she was going to cash in the ticket for her friend, but needed $2,300 to get to the lotto commission. She claimed, if the elderly couple helped her, she would double their money. Chief Bill Mull, of the Plainview Police Department explains, "In this case, they took the couple to a local bank. When they took $2,300 out, they put it in an envelope. The couple took them back to their car and the lady left the bag of money with them, but they failed to return. Later the elderly couple found no money in the bag...just newspaper clippings."
There are a couple things you can do to protect yourself from this scam. Chief Mull says, for one remember you don't have to be a citizen to cash a lotto ticket, nor do you ever have to pay money up front before getting a prize. Also, the elderly couple could have suggested they needed to check with their son or daughter or even law enforcement first. He says the scam-artists would not have cooperated and that would be your first clue that something's up.
Police urge anyone who is approached with this type of scam to call them whether they are fooled or not, that way they may catch them before the find someone who will fall for the scam.