Deceiving her cousin
A woman is facing four years of prison time after she pleaded guilty to stealing a major lottery win from her cousin. Iris Amador Argueta forged documents and showed them to her cousin in an attempt to convince him that he won $20,000, despite the win being more than 26-times that figure.
he offered Argueta $50,000 to claim the prize on his behalf
The cousin wanted to stay anonymous, so he offered Argueta $50,000 to claim the prize on his behalf. She agreed, but deceived him in order to take a lump sum of $537,440 for herself. The sentencing guidelines for the offense are between 16 months and four years in prison.
Details of the theft
The actual winner lived in New York, but Argueta resided in Virginia. She drove to New York, got the winning ticket, and mailed it to the New York State Gaming Commission on November 13. Because of the pandemic-related restrictions in the state at the time, people could not redeem winning lottery tickets in person.
A number of weeks after mailing off the ticket, Argueta went to her cousin’s house to say that he had actually only won $20,000. She showed him forged paperwork from the New York State Lottery to try to prove her claim.
Argueta proceeded to give her cousin $13,436 in an envelope, claiming that the rest of the $20,000 win went towards taxes. She had actually kept the rest of the real winnings after opting for the lump sum of $537,440, rather than an annuity.
Getting back the stolen funds
Despite the forged paperwork, Argueta’s cousin remained suspicious and ended up investigating the matter. He found a press release on the New York State Lottery’s website announcing Argueta’s win. He called his cousin to confront her; she denied his accusations and threatened to pursue legal action if he tried to get in contact with her again. The cousin submitted a report to the Glen Cove Police Department, which led to the court case.
Argueta finally transferred $317,857 to her cousin in May 2022
The true winner did eventually get his money, as Argueta finally transferred $317,857 to her cousin in May 2022.
When she is sentenced in March, it appears likely that Argueta will also be met with a judgment order to pay back a balance of $206,147 to her cousin. She has already said that she does not have the money to repay the full sum.