San Diego Police Department investigators are searching for three unknown suspects wanted in connection with a lottery scam targeting local victims.
According to detectives, at least three suspects – two men and a woman – have been operating a lottery scam off and on in San Diego County for the past several years.
Here’s how the scam works: the female suspect, acting as if she’s in a hurry and in some type of distress or desperation, approaches the victim and asks for directions to a certain location.
Detectives say the woman then pretends to be new to the U.S.
After a few seconds with the victim, a male suspect (pictured right) approaches seemingly out of nowhere and pretends not to know the woman in distress. He offers to help, and the duo then convince the victim to ride with them in his van.
Once the two suspects and the victim are in the man’s van, detectives say the female suspect confesses she’s actually looking for help cashing a winning lottery ticket.
The scam continues with the man supposedly making a phone call to a lottery office. At that point, another male suspect on the other end of the call joins in on the scam and pretends to be some sort of lottery representative.
From there, detectives say all three suspects convince the victim that she can make some money if she helps with cashing the ticket. The group asks the victim to put money up front in order to collect the supposed winnings.
In all cases, investigators say the victim is promised at least $10,000 in return for her help. The money never comes.
Investigators say at least four known cases revolving around this lottery scam have been reported so far. In all of the cases, the suspects have targeted middle-age to elderly Hispanic female victims.
The female suspect and the first male suspect have been captured on surveillance tape. Police released the images of the suspects Thursday in hopes of tracking down more information.
Detectives describe the female suspect (pictured left) as a Hispanic woman in her 40s between 5-foot-4 and 5-foot-6. She has a medium to heavy build and wears her hair in a ponytail. She pretends to be from Cuba or South America during the scam.
The male suspect is described as a Hispanic male in his mid-40s between 5-foot-4 and 5-foot-8. He has a normal build and is well-dressed, wearing a driving cap in all cases. There is no suspect description for the second male suspect on the phone.
Detectives say the suspect vehicle is a possibly grey, silver or light green, 1990s or 2000s Chrysler or Dodge minivan.
Anyone with information on this scam is encouraged to call the SDPD economic crimes unit at (619) 446-1031 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.