Trio cheated elderly woman out of $1,800 with lottery ticket scam, DA says

Three people have been charged with using a lottery scam to cheat a 66-year-old woman out of $1,800 in Long Beach last week, according to authorities.

The trio convinced the woman to give them the money with the promise that she’d get a cut of the winning lottery ticket they claimed to have, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office said.

The D.A.’s office announced Mercedes Montanez, 68, Luisa Camargo, 38, and Tito Lozada, 49, are all charged with one felony count each of grand theft from an elder and grand theft of more than $950.

Police arrested the three suspects on Sept. 26, the same day they allegedly scammed their victim out of the cash.

To carry out the scheme, Montanez approached the woman on a Long Beach street and said she had a winning lottery ticket, “but needed to pay $15,000 to collect the winnings,” according to prosecutors.

“Montanez allegedly asked the victim to help pay the fee in return for a portion of the lottery proceeds,” the D.A.’s office said. “To convince the woman, Camargo is accused of pretending to be another person contributing to the lottery fund. Lozada allegedly posed as a lottery official who validated the ticket.”

They took the woman to a bank and her Long Beach home where she got more than $1,800 in cash for them before they dropped her off and told her to wait for more instructions, prosecutors said.

All three defendants could face up to four years in prison if they’re convicted.

Prosecutors planned to ask a judge to set their bail at $250,000 each at a court hearing scheduled for Monday afternoon.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children, Paul and Simon.
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