Women loses $3,000 in lottery scam

OKEECHOBEE — An Okeechobee woman apparently fell victim to a couple who allegedly defrauded her in a supposed attempt to collect lottery winnings.

According to an incident report by Deputy Jonathon Kemp of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), at 4:18 p.m. on Jan. 26, he responded to the jail lobby in the 500 block of Northwest Fourth Street in regard to a fraud complaint.

The complainant reportedly informed the deputy that around noon on Wednesday, Jan. 24, she had been about to depart the Family Dollar located on State Road 70 East when she was approached by what appeared to be a male and female Cuban couple. The complainant’s description of the couple was that they both had black hair and were around 5 feet tall.

The two individuals supposedly told the woman they had won the lottery and needed her help to gather money in order to receive the money that was won. They reportedly would not tell the complainant how much they won, just that they needed her help to pay $10,000 in order to receive the winnings.

They apparently told the complainant that if she were to help them, they would pay her back tenfold with their winnings. The couple supposedly had the woman stop at the Racetrac fuel station as well as Bill’s Mini Mart to withdraw cash. The woman also apparently gave them $3,000 in cash from her home. She then reported to Deputy Kemp that she’d seen the couple put the money into an envelope and even had offered to drive them home, which they said was in the Fort Pierce area but refused.

Before the couple left, they handed the complainant the envelope, which she believed was the cash to hold for purposes of gaining trust. They apparently informed her that they would be back the next day to have her drive them and the cash to the West Palm Beach area to gather the lottery winnings.

The report stated that when the woman got home, she opened the envelope and found only cut-up pieces of newspaper inside. She reportedly believed that they’d switched the envelope when she was not looking and explained that she was just now able to contact law enforcement about the incident because of her inability to take off of work.

The report finished by stating that the only information available to law enforcement was the description provided and the time frame of noon – 2 p.m. on that day. Deputy Kemp reported that Racetrac and Bill’s Mini Mart were to be contacted in order to try to attain video surveillance of the two individuals and possibly any cardholder information in case any purchases were made inside the stores. The case will remain open for further investigation, and the complainant was provided an agency case number.

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