Woman accused of stealing $1 million lottery prize from cousin
MINEOLA, N.Y. (Gray News) - A woman has been arrested and charged after authorities say she claimed her cousin’s $1 million lottery prize and kept the money for herself.
Iris Amador Argueta, 32, faces charges of grand larceny and criminal possession of a forged instrument after allegedly stealing nearly $1 million in lottery prize money from her cousin and misleading him about the value of the prize.
That’s according to a joint press release from the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the Glen Cove Police Department in New York.
“This defendant exploited her cousin’s trust, allegedly lying and manipulating him with the aim of pocketing the lion’s share of his $1 million winning lottery ticket for herself,” said Acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce A. Smith.
Investigators say the victim bought a New York State Lottery $5 Hold ‘Em Poker “scratch-off” ticket on Oct. 28, 2020, that revealed a $1 million jackpot prize when scratched. He contacted Argueta and asked her to claim the money for him because he wished to remain anonymous.
Argueta agreed and mailed in the winning ticket, according to authorities.
Weeks later, investigators say Argueta showed the victim paperwork forged to look like it came from the New York State Lottery that said the prize amount was only $20,000. She then gave him $13,436 in cash and told him the rest was kept for taxes.
However, a joint investigation determined Argueta actually received a lump sum prize of $537,440.
The victim contacted police after seeing an official lottery press release that stated Argueta did claim the $1 million lottery ticket, CNN reports.
Investigators found $317,825.46 in allegedly stolen funds in Argueta’s bank account. The money is being held.
Argueta is due back in court Nov. 23. If convicted of the top count, she faces up to five to 15 years in prison.
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