- A Texas woman pleaded guilty to stealing her cousin’s $1 million lottery prize.
- Iris Amador Argueta made a deal with her cousin to claim his prize, but ran off with the money, officials allege.
- Argueta faces up to four years in prison for the crime.
A Texas woman on Friday pleaded guilty to stealing a family member’s $1 million scratch-off ticket and allegedly collecting the prize for herself, CNN reported.
Iris Amador Argueta was charged with one count of grand larceny in connection to the alleged theft, which unraveled in 2020, the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
During their investigation, officials learned that the unidentified victim purchased the $5 Hold ‘Em Poker scratch-off ticket from a convenience store in Glen Cove — a city on Long Island, New York — in October 2020, winning $1 million.
Due to the victim wanting to be anonymous, he reached out to his cousin, Argueta, who resided in Virginia at the time, officials said. He asked her to claim his new fortune and agreed to give her $50,000 for the favor.
Argueta traveled to New York to pick up the ticket and collect the prize in person but couldn’t due to COVID-19, according to the statement. She decided to mail the ticket to the New York State Gaming Commission in November 2020.
“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,” the district attorney’s office statement said. “The defendant also handed the victim an envelope containing $13,436 in cash and told him that the rest of the money was kept for taxes.”
However, officials said that a press release from the state lottery revealed that Argueta collected the prize and opted for the $537,440 lump-sum option, according to the statement. When the victim contacted Argueta, she denied having any extra cash and threatened legal action against him.
CNN reported that Argueta was taken into custody in November 2021. Months later in May 2022, she had to give $317,857.13 back to her cousin, the district attorney’s office said. She is set to be sentenced in March and is facing between 1 to 4 years behind bars.
“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,” District Attorney Donnelly said in the statement. “But her greedy actions also spelled the end of her luck, and now she will serve time in prison for her crime.”