http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2009/02/20/danville-man-defrauded-in-lotto-scam


DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - February 20, 2009

Danville man defrauded in lotto scam

Duo tricks resident into handing over thousands in cash

by Geoff Gillette

An act of kindness cost a Danville resident dearly, when he was bilked out of thousands of dollars in a scam involving the Superlotto.

Danville Police Sgt. Dan Hoffman said the incident occurred at 1:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 9, in the parking lot at Costco. The victim, a 50-year-old Danville man, was leaving the store when he was approached by a man described as a Hispanic in his mid-30s.

"The man attempts to communicate with the victim in broken English that he was looking for an attorney's office. While the two were conversing, a second man approached them," said Hoffman.

This man was described as a white male in his 40s, with an eastern European accent. This individual stated that he could translate for the Hispanic man.

The victim was told that the Hispanic man had purchased a Superlotto ticket that hit the jackpot, winning $66 million. The second suspect explained that the jackpot winner couldn't redeem his prize because he was an illegal immigrant and feared he would be deported if he came forward to claim the jackpot.

The second suspect suggested that he and the victim offer to purchase the winning ticket for $60,000. When the victim hesitated, the suspect suggested they call the phone number on the ticket to verify it was a winner. He did so, telling the victim that it was real but only worth $11 million due to multiple winners.

The ticket holder then said, through his translator, that he would accept $40,000. When the victim again hesitated, the second suspect told him he can buy in for whatever percent he wanted.

The victim drove the pair to two different Wells Fargo branches, one in San Ramon and the other in Dublin, withdrawing a total of $8,750 from savings accounts and a credit line and brought it to the two waiting men. The white male offered to allow the victim to hold the winning ticket, in exchange for the money.

At that point, the Hispanic man claimed to be having a medical emergency and sent his accomplice into the nearby Longs drugs for his "medicine." The man quickly returned and said that the person purchasing the drug needed to be over 50, so he asked the victim to go in and get it. Moments later when the victim returned, both men and the money were gone.

Hoffman said this is the first scam of this kind the police have seen here in Danville. He said the situation had many red flags that should have alerted the victim to the shady intentions of the pair.

"We're encouraging people to use a little common sense," he said. "If something appears to be too good to be true, it probably is and they're probably being defrauded somehow."

Hoffman added that any resident who comes across something similar should notify the police immediately.

"There's a chance that it could be for real," he said, "but you just can't take a chance like that." He said that the victim was fortunate that the scam artists were not violent or the situation could have ended very badly.

Police are coordinating with other area departments to see if the pair of scam artists is working the Bay Area. In addition, investigators are working to develop leads that could allow them to identify the two men.

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