A Houston woman’s luck is up after she admitted to cashing in her cousin’s $1 million lottery ticket and keeping the payout in 2020.
Iris Amador Argueta, 34, pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny after the scratch-off she allegedly stole got her a large payout, according to Anne T. Donnelly, the district attorney for Nassau County, New York. Argueta could be facing 15-48 months in prison.
“This defendant thought she hit the jackpot when she passed off her cousin’s $1 million winning ‘scratch-off’ ticket as her own and claimed a lump sum payout of more than $500,000,” Donnelly said in a press release.
“But her greedy actions also spelled the end of her luck, and now she will serve time in prison for her crime,” she continued.
As the district attorney and the Glen Cove Police Department investigated, they found that the victim had purchased a New York State Lottery $5 Hold ‘Em Poker scratch-off at a convenience store in Glen Cove on October 26, 2020.
Argueta lived in Virginia when her cousin, the victim, asked her to claim the prize on his behalf to remain anonymous, according to the district attorney’s office. He promised her $50,000, and Argueta drove to Glen Cove, New York, to retrieve the ticket.
At the time, the New York State Gaming Commission was not accepting winners in person, so she ended up mailing the ticket on November 15, 2020. Within weeks she delivered what she claimed was the New York State Lottery paperwork to her cousin.
These documents stated that the ticket prize was only $20,000. She then handed her cousin $13,436 and said the rest was held in taxes.
However, the victim later found a press release online confirming that the ticket was worth $1 million and that Argueta had received a lump sum of $537,440 after taxes.
In May 2022, Argueta forfeited $317,857.13 from her account to return to the victim as a result of legal proceedings.
“When the collaborative effort between the Glen Cove Detective Division and the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office proved the victim’s allegations to be true, the defendant was arrested, and a majority of the $537,440 lump sum prize money was located and returned to the victim,” said Detective Lieutenant John Nagle of the Glen Cove Police Department.
“The worst part of the crime was the fact that it was perpetrated by the victim’s own cousin,” he concluded.
Argueta’s sentencing is scheduled to be held on March 15.
Sign your tickets as soon as you purchase them, if you’re concerned about theft.