An anonymous person did the near-impossible: they won the lottery in New York!

Or, so they thought.

Wanting to remain anonymous, the person asked a cousin to travel to New York and claim the prize for the scratch-off ticket. The family member did not make the trip, but instead proceeded to forge the results to show a smaller cash prize, pocketing a difference of over half a million dollars.

That cousin has been caught, and is set to serve prison time for their actions.

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34-Year Old Woman Pleads Guilty After Stealing Prize from NY Lotto Winner

A story from ABC News 10 in Albany detailed the crimes committed by 34-year old Iris Amador Argueta, a native of Texas and resident of Virginia. Argueta pled guilty to to second-degree grand larceny after stealing more that $500,000 from a New York lottery winner.

So, here's how it all went down. The winner wanted to remain anonymous, which according to the report, is not allowed in New York. So, they asked Argueta to travel to New York to claim the prize from their winning $5 Hold ‘Em Poker scratch-off, purchased on Oct. 28, 2020, at a 7-Eleven in Glen Cove on Long Island.

With the knowledge that the winner would pay Argueta $50,000 for her services, she instead chose to mail the ticket into the New York State Gaming Commission, claiming that she had purchased the winner, and was due the prize. The article states that because COVID-19 was still a factor in October of 2020, the mail-in option was available for winners at that time.

The 7-Eleven in Glen Cove where the ticket was sold / Google Maps
The 7-Eleven in Glen Cove where the ticket was sold / Google Maps
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Next came the truly criminal act: forging documents to reflect a smaller pay-out, which Argueta did, convincing the winner that the ticket was only worth $20,000, or roughly $13,000 after taxes.

Do the quick mental math, and after the winner was paid out "in-full" by Argueta in cash, she walked away with a lump sum of $537,440 after taxes.

So, the winner received what they believed to be their winning payment of $13,000 and Argueta walked away with the rest. It wasn't until the story made the local news, which the winner saw, that they realized what their own cousin did to them. When confronted by the winner, Argueta claimed there was no money to be had, and that's when legal action was taken.

Fast forward to Friday, January 18th, and Argueta pled guilty to the charges levied against her, and will be sentenced in March of 2023. Crime doesn't pay, and Iris Amador Argueta has proven that to be true once again.

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While looking at the latest weekly roundup for grand prizes, we counted 59 different tickets that have their grand prizes still on the market. The report was last updated on January 4th 2023, as we publish this article. 

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