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Victim of Pigeon Drop Scammed for $4,000

By Lookout Staff

December 15 -- A woman was bilked $4,000 by two men who engaged her in a lottery scam on the Third Street Promenade Monday.

The swindle -- known as a "pigeon drop" -- began when the suspect approached the victim on the 1200 block of the Promenade and asked her in Spanish to help him find an address, police said.

During their conversation, the suspect told the victim that he had a winning lottery ticket for $300,000, said Lt. Frank Fabrega, the police department spokesman.

"The suspect convinced the victim that he was holding a winning lottery ticket, but was unable to claim it because he was in the country illegally," Fabrega said. He then asked the victim to help him claim the ticket.

The suspect told the woman that he would give her $10,000 if she helped him cash his winning ticket. He then told her he needed to give the lottery commission $15,000 before they would cash his winning ticket.

"The victim was asked if she had $15,000, and she told the suspect that she did not have that much money and had only $4,000," Fabrega said.

At that point, a second suspect, who had approached earlier to offer assistance, said he had $9,000 and would be willing to help, Fabrega said.

The suspects accompanied the victim to her bank and withdrew $4,000 in cash, Fabrega said. After getting the money from the victim, both suspects left.

When they did not return, the victim called a friend and later notified police, who responded to the 500 block of Wilshire Boulevard at 9:02 p.m.

The first suspect is described as a 52-year-old Hispanic standing 5'4" and weighing 180 pounds. He has gray hair, brown eyes and a light complexion. He was wearing tan pants and a white jacket.

The second suspect is described as a 35-year-old Hispanic standing 5'7 and weighing 140 pounds. He has black hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion. He was wearing a dark suit.

People should be cautious when someone asks for money in exchange for a prize or to purchase items not bought from a store or to produce a large sum of cash to show good faith, police said.

"Do not underestimate these criminals, because they can be very inventive and persuasive," Fabrega said. "Their game is to confuse or just plain trick you."

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Santa Monica Police Department at 310.458.8491.

Callers who wish to provide anonymous information may also call the We-Tip national hotline at 1.800.78.CRIME (27463). Callers with information that leads to an arrest and conviction become eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

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