TWO MEN HELD, LOTTERY SCHEME FOILED AFTER BANK EMPLOYEES ALERT CUSTOMER.
Two men tried to swindle a senior citizen out of his savings in a widely used lottery scam, but were arrested when the would-be mark contacted authorities, deputies said.
Anthony Nevarez Montoya, 74, of Pearblossom was approached by two Spanish-speaking men outside of Home Depot in Palmdale. The duo told Montoya they had a lottery ticket worth $25,000, but were unable to claim it because they were illegal aliens and did not speak English, officials said.
The suspects - identified as Carlos Roberto Hernandez, 34, of San Fernando and Campos Salvador Rodriguez, 28, of Los Angeles - asked Montoya to cash the ticket for them. They offered to give him $10,000 for his trouble, but demanded a $3,500 deposit from him to complete the deal.
Montoya eventually agreed to give the men $900, and went to the bank to withdraw the money.
``He was withdrawing the money when the teller told him that it was a scam,'' said sheriff's Deputy Dave Miklos. ``It was really more the employees at the bank who helped him.
``He seemed to think that he was going to miss a big opportunity,'' Miklos said. ``He didn't want to believe the bank.''
Montoya called the authorities and told them where he was supposed to meet the two men.
Deputies arrested Hernandez and Rodriguez on suspicion of grand theft by false pretenses and conspiracy. They were being held at the Lancaster sheriff's station in lieu of $100,000 bail.
The lottery scheme has been going on for more than a year throughout Southern California, with officials tracking a variety of suspects. A dozen such incidents have been reported in the Antelope Valley, including eight this year.
``This lotto scam has been going on so long and it's so big,'' said Deputy Dan Gordan, who is investigating this case. ``It's happened in Simi Valley and Santa Clarita.''
Miklos said the scheme has increased in the past few months.
``They were making good money,'' said Gordan, adding that the perpetrators have been seen driving a 1998 Cadillac. ``They took a woman of all of her savings and all her jewelry worth $1,900. They've gotten as much as $9,000 at one time.''
Officials said that the perpetrators target elderly Spanish speakers.
``There's a certain amount of sympathy they target,'' said Gordan. ``You appeal to their compassion.''
Officials are asking that anyone who may have been a victim of the scheme to contact the Palmdale sheriff's station at (805) 267-4300.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Nov 19, 1998|
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