Police say they've arrested four suspects in connection with lottery scams. Investigators say scams usually involve teams of con artists claiming to have a winning California Lottery ticket.
They tell their victims, they need thousands of dollars in order to claim their prize.
Suspects often approach females between the ages of 45 to 90 years, speak with the victims in Spanish in order to gain their trust.
The South Gate Police Department is working with Long Beach Police, the LAPD and law enforcement in Northern California, Illinois and Florida.
Investigators say the scammers are known to travel up and down California and across state lines to victimize Spanish speakers.
Investigators described the typical scam: suspect #1 walks up to a potential victim, asking for directions to a law firm, immigration office or street address. Once the suspect gets the potential victim talking, a secret is revealed. The suspect has a winning lottery ticket worth millions of dollars.
A second suspect pretends to overhear the conversation and offers a cell phone to call the California Lottery to confirm the winning ticket. A third suspect confirms the win as the voice on the cell phone. But the voice advises the listeners that they'll need thousands of dollars in cash or jewelry for collateral to collect the prize.
The second suspect convinces the potential victim they must each put in between $5,000 and $30,000 to help the illegal alien collect the grand prize.
The victim is driven to a bank or credit union and urged to withdraw cash.
Investigators say the victims have handed over their life savings or precious jewelry or taken cash advances on their credit cards.
Investigators say the victims are often so humiliated they've been conned they will not report the scam to law enforcement or even tell family members.
In some cases, victims have taken their own lives.
The California Lottery does not require citizenship to claim a lottery prize. It never confirms winning tickets over the phone and never requires collateral to claim a prize.
Anyone who has been a victim or has information is asked to call South Gate Police Department at (323) 563-5436.