From San Francisco Police Department
September 19, 2012
San Francisco Police are warning the community about the Latin Lotto Scam. In San Francisco there have been two reported “Latin Lotto Scam” incidents. In these incidents, both victims were female in their 50’s and are Spanish speaking. The first incident occurred on August 16, 2012 with a loss of over $6,000.00 cash and approximately $2,000.00 worth in jewelry. The female victim was approached by female suspect at 18th and Capp Street. The suspect told the victim that she needed help. The suspect stated she needed to get back to her country of Belize because her mother was very sick. The suspect stated she had just won $200,000 in the scratchers Lottery and was in the U.S. illegally. The suspect told the victim she would give her $20,000 if she helped her collect the prize. A passerby, the second suspect, convinced the victim to withdraw cash from her bank as collateral. The victim also gave the suspects her jewelry. Once they are convinced to give the suspects money or valuables, the suspects offer a ride to the victims to where they have the money. After the transaction, they then convinced the victim to get out of the vehicle and the suspects fled the scene.
The suspect vehicle in this incident is described as a white 4 door, possibly 2005 to 2008 Toyota. One suspect was a Hispanic female, 30 years old, 5’00”,140 lbs, slicked back hair and goes by the name of “Tatiana” and said she was from Belize.
A Hispanic male suspect by the name of “Javier” 35-45 years of age, 5’10”, 175 lbs was also with the two suspects.
A second incident occurred on September 10, 2012 at 24th St and Potrero Avenue. A female victim in her 50’s was approached by a different female suspect. The suspect grabbed the victim by her arms and frantically told her that she needed help. The suspect stated she had a winning Lottery ticket and needed help collecting the $250,000.00 prize. Again the female suspect and a passerby, second suspect, convinced the victim to give them $2,000.00 in cash. The victim was once again convinced to get into the vehicle to drive to the location where they had their valuables/money. The victim also gave the suspects the jewelry she was wearing and was asked to get out of the vehicle. She compiled and suspects fled. Loss in this case was approximately $2,000 in cash and $1,700 in jewelry.
The suspect vehicle was described as a black Hyundai SUV. The suspects were described as Hispanic females, 35-40, 5’10”, 150 lbs, shoulder length hair and dark skin. The suspect stated she was from Ecuador. Suspect 2 was described as a Hispanic male, 35-40, 6’1”, 200 lbs and stated he was from El Salvador.
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. Many victims are reluctant to report these crimes or tell relatives due to embarrassment of being a victim. 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.
The con artist(s) will approach a victim while walking on the street.
The con artist will use such terms as:
- “I can not claim the prize because I’m not a U S citizen or I don’t have papers.”
You do not have to be a U S citizen or have legal residence to claim a lottery prize.
- “We can call the Lottery to verify that this is a winning ticket”
They give a phone number to call to verify the winning ticket and sometimes insist on calling the number. The phone number is an altered/fake number on the ticket or they will fake calling a number on the ticket. California Lottery does not give verifications of a winning ticket over the phone. The phone number on legitimate lottery ticket is a recorded message or the live person gives instructions on how to claim the cash prize.
- “I need money to claim my prize. If you help me, we can share the prize amount.”
The California Lottery does not require any money upfront to claim a prize.
- “I’m in a hurry and need to return to my country.”
The con artists are trying to play on the victims’ kindness and rush them into giving money before they have a chance to think about or ask a family member or friend for advice or help. They will hug the intended victim and use respectful words to get them to withdraw cash from the bank. The con artists will not leave their sight and will continue to chat.
The con artist(s) will try to get the victim to go to the bank where they normally conduct transactions to get money. This way the tellers will not question the large withdrawal. Con artist will ask the victim if they have jewelry or other valuables.
If the victim catches on to the scam and attempts to leave, the suspects will threaten them or use violence to get the victim to retrieve their cash. Suspects have been known to use a gun, knife, or syringe with a needle saying that poison is inside, and will cause bodily harm.
This is a highly profitable Confidence Scheme, in which the suspect practices, marks, and watches the victim prior to committing the crime.
Suspects are transients. They enter the United States legally or illegally, from México or Puerto Rico. It is unknown from which countries suspects come from originally. They have identified themselves as being from Mexico, Central America or South American countries.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact SFPD at (415) 575-4444 or text-a-tip to TIP411 begin the message with SFPD.