Woman absconds with cousin’s $1-million winning lottery ticket, leaving him $13,400
He asked her to cash the ticket to preserve his anonymity — but she told him it was worth only $20,000
Whoever said family is everything hasn’t met Iris Argueta.
She had been entrusted by her cousin to cash his US$1 million winning lottery ticket because he didn’t want his name made public.
He offered her $50,000 to be the public face of the winnings. She agreed, and mailed the scratch ticket to the New York State Lottery, according to a joint press release on Tuesday from Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and Glen Cove Police Department, in Long Island.
Argueta opted to received the prize money as a one-time lump sum payment, which came to $537,000 after taxes were deducted.
But she told her cousin the ticket won just $20,000 and gave him an envelope with $13,436, CNN quoted the district attorney’s office, claiming the difference was due to taxes. She even showed him forged paperwork from lottery officials, police said.
Here’s where Argueta, 32, must have slapped herself on the forehead for having agreed to be the public face of the win. The lottery organization released its standard public notice stating that she had won $1 million with a $5 scratch ticket, and her cousin woke up to the scam.
“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,” Acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce A. Smith said.
Argueta surrendered to Glen Cove police this week and was charged with one count of grand larceny in the second degree and two counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree.
She was released on her own recognizance, CNN says, and is due back for sentencing Nov. 23. If convicted of the top charge, Argueta faces five to 15 years in prison.
Police recovered more than $317,000 of the funds from Argueta’s bank account.
It looks like any Thanksgiving dinner with the extended family is going to be off the table for her.