Lottery ticket
How To Survive Your Lottery Win! Creative Commons

On Monday, Iris Amador Argueta, 32, of Houston surrendered to the Glen Cove Police Department after stealing nearly $1 million lottery prize money that belonged to her cousin.

According to Nassau County prosecutors, Argueta's cousin bought a New York State Lottery $5 Hold'Em Poker scratch-off ticket at a 7-Eleven store last Oct. 28, 2020. The ticket winner was revealed to have bagged a $1 million jackpot prize.

The victim in question from Long Island asked his cousin to claim the prize to hide it to protect his identity. He offered Argueta $50,000 in exchange.

Argueta closed the deal with her cousin and drove from Virginia to New York to collect the winning lottery ticket. She mailed it to the New York State Gaming Commission on Nov. 13, 2020, as told by the authorities.

The prosecutors explained that Argueta lied to him by giving him fake paperwork showing that he only won a small amount of cash from the supposedly large lottery prize. She pocketed most of the money herself instead.

"Weeks later, the defendant appeared at the victim's residence with paperwork purporting to be from the New York State Lottery, which indicated that the prize amount was only $20,000," lottery officials stated in a press release. "The defendant allegedly also handed the victim an envelope containing $13,436 in cash and told him that the rest of the money was kept for taxes."

Argueta presented her cousin with the forged note from the lottery officials. However, the state had published a press release of the million-dollar jackpot claimed by Argueta while mentioning that she took a total of $537,440 payout.

The victim discovered and contacted Argueta about this, but she firmly denied having the rest of the money. She also made some legal threats to her cousin if he kept getting in touch with her.

Nassau County officials stated that they recovered almost $318,000 from Argueta's bank account. She was arrested on Monday and indicted Tuesday with grand larceny in the second degree and two counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree. She now faces up to 15 years imprisonment if found guilty.

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