Every few months, one scam or another seems to pop up on law enforcement’s radar. Most of them involve a phone call where a victim is either lied to or scared into paying the suspect via some sort of untraceable currency – usually a gift card. A few would-be scammers, though, are brazen enough to ply their trade in person. One such group was recently arrested by the LAPD after scamming several elderly women in Los Angeles County.
The scam was executed by one of the suspects approaching an elderly woman out in public and requesting assistance in cashing a lottery ticket. The initial scammer would complain that a coyote (person who smuggles people over the border) stole their identification papers, making it impossible to cash in their lottery ticket. An accomplice, posted nearby, would then approach the scammer and the victim and offer to help, an attempt on the part of the scammers to provide legitimacy for the initial claim of needing help.
Finally, a third accomplice would pose as a lottery official over the phone, and instruct “anyone assisting” (a.k.a. the victim) to bring “good faith” money or jewelry. The initial scammer would then place the money or jewelry in an envelope, and when the victim was distracted, would switch the envelope containing valuables with an identical one that did not. The scammer would then somehow get the victim out of the car, hand her the false envelope, and drive off with the one containing valuables.
Three suspects, Martha Gonzalez, Andrea Carolina Maldonado, and Juan Manuelrol Gonzalez, were arrested by the LAPD and are believed to have scammed elderly women in South Los Angeles, San Gabriel, the San Fernando Valley and possibly Oxnard.