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Texas woman charged with stealing $1 million lotto prize from cousin

Lottery instant game
Posted at 5:26 PM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-11 00:54:54-05

A Texas woman was arrested for allegedly stealing nearly $1 million in lottery prize money from her cousin.

Iris Amador Argueta, 32, of Houston surrendered to the Glen Cove Police Department on Monday, according to authorities.

Her cousin, the victim, bought a New York State Lottery $5 Hold 'Em Poker "scratch-off" ticket at a 7-Eleven on Oct. 28, 2020. The ticket revealed a $1 million jackpot prize.

The victim wished to remain anonymous, so he asked Argueta to claim the prize on his behalf and promised her $50,000 in exchange for claiming the prize.

Argueta agreed and drove from her home in Virginia to New York to collect the winning ticket. She mailed it to the NYS Gaming Commission on Nov. 13, 2020, authorities said.

"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," said a press release from officials. "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."

Through a joint investigation, authorities said they learned that Argueta received $537,440 from the NYS Gaming Commission as the lump-sum prize. According to authorities, the paperwork allegedly shown to the victim was forged.

Following an investigation, Argueta is now charged with grand larceny in the second degree and two counts of criminal of a forged instrument in the second degree.

Argueta now faces up to 15 years in prison, if found guilty. Additionally, over $300,000 in allegedly stolen funds have been recovered from her bank account.