3 suspects arrested in 'Latin Lotto' scam targeting several cities in L.A. area

(Los Angeles Police Department)

Three suspects in a "Latin Lotto" scam are behind bars facing Grand Theft charges as they left a trail of victims in several cities including Pacoima, North Hollywood, San Fernando, El Monte, Ontario, Pico Rivera, and Long Beach, police said.

Detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department's Commercial Crimes Division, Major Theft Task Force arrested Tito Lozada, Luisa Camargo, and Mercedes Montanez on Sept. 26.

LAPD says the suspects had just completed a scam on a 65-year-old victim in the city of Long Beach.

"The suspects traveled through neighborhoods in the city of Long Beach looking for elderly female Hispanics walking alone. Once a potential victim was spotted, a female suspect would walk up and engage the victim in conversation.  The suspect asks for help cashing a winning lottery ticket," said a news release from the Los Angeles Police Department. "A second suspect then walks up from the other direction and joins in the scam. The male suspect usually remained out of sight of the victim and would act as the 'lottery commissioner' on the phone who would 'validate' the winning lottery ticket."

LAPD continued, "The suspects would convince the victim to retrieve money and jewelry from her house or bank as 'good faith' money needed to cash the winning ticket. After leaving the bank, the suspects would then find a ruse to get the victim out of their vehicle and drive away with her money."

Authorities say the scam targeted older Hispanic women and is designed to keep the victim confused until the suspects can convince the victim into retrieving money or jewelry to get the "big winnings," from which the victim is promised a large sum of money.

Police suspect Lozada is also involved in another lotto scam in the city of San Diego where the victim was held against her will for a period of time in the suspect car before being freed.

There could be more victims in this case. Police urge anyone with information to call Detective Carol Mosher at 213-486-6963. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.