The New Mexico Lottery Authority is warning New Mexico residents to be wary of scam artists like those who tricked an elderly Las Cruces man out of $25,000 late last week.
The 80-year-old victim told investigators he was approached by two men while he was shopping last Friday who persuaded the Las Cruces resident to give them $25,000 in exchange for what they called a winning lottery ticket worth $553,000, according to a story that appeared Wednesday in the Albuquerque Journal.
The two men persuaded the elderly victim to drive them to Albuquerque where they could redeem the so-called winning ticket, but along the way they fled with the man's money and remain at large, according to the report.
The New Mexico Lottery said those scam artists could be moving around the state.
Here is the news release:
NEW MEXICO LOTTERY: DON’T PLAY GAMES
WITH SCAM ARTISTS
ALBUQUERQUE – The New Mexico Lottery is urging residents to be suspicious of people who approach them seeking assistance in claiming a lottery prize.
Vince Torrez, New Mexico Lottery executive vice president of security, said knowing four simple facts will help consumers protect themselves against fast-talking scam artists.
New Mexico residency or United States citizenship are not eligibility requirements to claim lottery prizes.
Any high-winning ticket exceeding $600 must be claimed in person at New Mexico Lottery headquarters in Albuquerque or mailed to lottery headquarters with a completed claim form.
No legitimate lottery requires players to pay money up front to claim a prize.
No legitimate lottery verifies winning tickets over the phone.
Torrez said scam artists target people that are older and speak Spanish. The criminals typically approach people in parking lots and businesses with a sad story or a pressing reason for why they need help to quickly cash their “winning” lottery ticket.
Torrez also warned people against buying lottery tickets from individuals. There are 1,100 authorized New Mexico Lottery retailers throughout the state and they are the only legitimate sellers of lottery tickets.
Anyone approached under these circumstances should decline the offer and call local law enforcement authorities with as many details as possible, including descriptions of the suspects, cars and license plate numbers. Consumers can also call the New Mexico Lottery’s Security and Enforcement Division at 505-342-7650.
More consumer safeguards are available at http://www.nmlottery.com/Scam.htm.