PASADENA â€“ Police are warning the public about an organized lottery scheme, where scam artists have been conning thousands of dollars out of individuals, many of whom are elderly, according to Pasadena Police sources.
Individuals are being approached in cities around the San Gabriel Valley, but victims are voluntarily withdrawing funds from banks in Pasadena, said Janet Givens-Pope spokesperson for the Pasadena Police Department.
Several cases have been reported where suspects carry out a scam based on the premise of cashing a lottery ticket. The victim is typically approached in the parking lot of a shopping center by a lone suspect who claims to have won the lottery but, for one reason or another, needs money upfront to claim the winnings.
While the victim is speaking with the suspect, another suspect approaches them and offers to assist in obtaining the upfront money. One of the suspects pretends to place a call via cell phone to the lottery bureau and confirms the winnings. Both suspects pretend not to know each other but convince the victim to accompany them to a bank in Pasadena to withdraw funds, usually in the victimâ€™s vehicle.
The victim is then promised a percentage of the lottery earnings if they help provide the needed funds, said Pope-Givens.
Once the victim has withdrawn the funds, one of the suspects tells the victim to place the money in a bag. The suspects then convince the victim to leave the car to buy food or for another pretense. Once the victim is out of the car, the suspects flee with the victimâ€™s money.
The perpetrators have been working in pairs, usually male and female, and they target individuals who are alone. It is unknown how many perpetrators are involved in the scheme, whether it is the same male and female each time or if others are participating, Pope-Givens said.
No suspects have been named at this time in the police departmentâ€™s ongoing investigation. If anyone who believes that they or someone they know has been victimized by this scam or who might have information is urged to call the Pasadena Police Department at (626) 744-8477.
–Emily Sanderson, Crime News Reporter, United Reporting