Crime

Lottery scam costs woman $10,000 - and a sore neck

Police looking for suspects in lottery scam

Miami-Dade Police believe this man took part in swindling $10,000 from a South Dade woman in a lottery scam in October.
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Miami-Dade Police believe this man took part in swindling $10,000 from a South Dade woman in a lottery scam in October.

It’s a common lottery scam: An unsuspecting person is approached by someone claiming to be an undocumented resident who won the lottery but can’t cash the ticket because of his status.

After a brief phone call from a third party claiming to be a lottery official verifying the winnings, the victim is offered a deal: Buy the ticket for less than the full value, then cash it in for the entire amount.

A South Dade woman named Cristina Font took the bait back in October. She wound up without $10,000 and with a sore neck after one of the two swindlers tried to choke her. On Friday, police released a video of one of the suspects in a Wells Fargo bank.

“They threw the bait out there to see who bites,” said Miami-Dade police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta. “There are all different types of scams. This is a common one.”

According to police, Font, 58, was making her way through a parking lot at 20821 S. Dixie Hwy., on Oct. 26 when two men approached her. They claimed to have won $40,000 in the Florida Lottery. They called another person who verified the winnings.

Font, convinced the couple were telling the truth, agreed to get into their car. They drove to her home and the bank, where she withdrew $10,000. Then, police said, the trio took off toward Homestead where, according to police, the couple said the ticket could be cashed.

They never made it to Homestead. Police said one of the men began choking her and the other stole her purse when the car was near the corner of Southwest 220th Street and 124th Avenue. Then, police said, Font was tossed from the vehicle.

The video released Friday police shows a man entering a Wells Fargo bank and speaking with a teller. He’s wearing a blue button-down shirt with sunglasses tilted back on his head. There doesn’t seem to be an exchange of money. Police say he’s responsible for fleecing Font of the $10,000.

“You need to do your homework,” said Zabaleta. “Call the lottery yourself. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

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