HOUSTON, Texas -- A Houston woman has been charged for allegedly stealing nearly $1 million in lotto prize money from her cousin.
The victim bought a New York State Lottery $5 Hold 'Em Poker "scratch-off" ticket at a 7-Eleven on Oct. 28, 2020. When he scratched the ticket, it revealed a $1 million jackpot prize.
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With hopes to remain anonymous, the victim asked his cousin, Iris Amador Argueta, to claim the winnings and promised to give her $50,000 in exchange.
At the time, Argueta drove from her home in Virginia to New York to collect the winning ticket and mailed it to the NYS Gaming Commission on Nov. 13, 2020, authorities said.
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Weeks later, Argueta went to her cousin's house with forged papers indicating the prize amount was only $20,000 and only gave him $13,436 in cash.
According to authorities, the victim later learned Argueta had actually claimed the $1 million prize and she had received a payout of $537,440 after taxes.
Following an investigation, Argueta surrendered to police and was charged with grand larceny in the second degree and two counts of criminal of a forged instrument in the second degree.
So far, $317,825.46 in stolen funds have been recovered from Argueta's bank account.
If found guilty, Argueta could face up to 15 years in prison.
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