LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Three members, of what the FBI is calling a lotto scam, were arraigned in federal court Monday.
The suspects allegedly targeted Hispanic seniors and authorities are saying there may be more suspects out there.
The suspects, 38-year-old Luis Camargo, 68-year-old Mercedes Montanez, and 49-year-old Tito Lozada were described as Columbian nationals who live in the Los Angeles area.
The suspects are accused of targeting older Hispanic women who were walking or shopping alone in the middle of the day.
In the scam, one of the suspects would approach the victim saying they had a winning lottery ticket and needed help cashing it — sometimes saying they couldn't do so themselves because of immigration issues.
They would then call one of the other suspects who would pose as a lottery official, saying there was a fee that needed to be paid in order to cash the winning ticket.
At least 11 victims were said to have fallen for the scam, losing thousands in cash and jewelry.
The victims, all said to be in their sixties, seventies, and eighties said they felt confused and intimidated.
The FBI believes there are other victims out there and even more criminals trying the same scam. A press conference was held in hopes to raise awareness.
"No one should ever, under any circumstance, give money in order to receive money," said an FBI official. "That is the hallmark of many schemes, about which the FBI is currently receiving complaints."
The suspects arrested have been tied to cases from 2017 until the present in cities like Chula Vista, Long Beach, and Fontana.
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