A woman has been arrested for stealing her cousin's US$1 million (AU$1.4 million) scratchie winnings after he entrusted her to cash the prize so he could remain anonymous.
Iris Amador Argueta, a 32-year-old woman from Houston in the US state of Texas, is also accused of forging lottery documents to throw her cousin off the scent after only transferring a small amount of the $1.4 million jackpot to him in Long Island, New York, according to Nassau County prosecutors on Tuesday (local time).
The Long Island winner bought a US$5 (AU$6.87) New York State 'Hold 'Em Poker' scratchie at a 7-Eleven store in the city of Glen Cove in October, according to NBC New York.
After scooping the jackpot, he asked his cousin to claim the lottery win on his behalf for a fee of US$50,000 (AU$68,650) so he could remain anonymous, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors also said she drove to New York State to collect the ticket before mailing it to the lottery company due to Covid-19 restrictions.
According to prosecutors, the woman sent her cousin a fake document from the lottery company along with US$13,436 (AU$18,446) in cash, claiming New York State withheld the rest for taxes.
They also accused the suspect of receiving a US$537,440 (AU$737,870) lump sum after the New York authorities issued a statement championing the man's jackpot win.
Suspect faces up to 15 years' jail if convicted
Prosecutors said the suspect threatened her cousin with legal action after he confronted her over the incident.
Officials in Nassau County in New York State said they had already recovered over half the stolen amount from the suspect's bank account.
"This defendant exploited her cousin’s trust, allegedly lying and manipulating him with the aim of pocketing the lion’s share of his USD 1 million (AU$1.4 million) winning lottery ticket for herself," Acting District Attorney Joyce Smith said.
“Thanks to a great working partnership with the Glen Cove Police Department, we’ve recovered more than USD 300,000 (AU$411,805) in allegedly stolen funds and will vigorously prosecute this case.”
The suspect has been charged with grand larceny and could face up to 15 years in jail if convicted.
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