A New York man won $1 million on a scratch-off lottery ticket and asked his cousin to cash it in for him — but prosecutors say she lied to him, gave him bogus paperwork and pocketed the money herself instead.
Iris Amador Argueta, 32, of Houston, was arrested Monday and arraigned Tuesday on felony charges of grand larceny and possession of forged documents.
It all began a year ago, the Nassau County DA's office says, when Argueta's unnamed cousin bought a $5 "Hold 'Em Poker" ticket at a convenience store in Glen Cove. The ticket was a winner: the $1 million jackpot.
The winner wanted to remain anonymous, so he asked his cousin Argueta to cash the ticket in for him in exchange for $50,000. She agreed, and mailed in the lucky scratcher.
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But a few weeks later, she appeared at her cousin's home with allegedly forged paperwork from the New York Lottery, "showing" that he had only won $20,000. She gave him a little over $13,000 in cash and said the state took the rest in taxes.
There was one problem with the scheme, the DA's office said — the state lottery issued a press release saying Argueta had claimed the prize, which had a lump-sum payout after taxes of $537,440.
When the victim found out and contacted Argueta, she denied having the money and threatened her cousin with legal consequences if he kept contacting her.
Police and prosecutors say they have recovered almost $318,000 of the money from Argueta's bank account.