BONITA SPRINGS, Fla.- Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers is asking for the public’s help identifying and tracking down a Hispanic male and female, who convinced a 70-year-old woman to fork over her life savings in exchange for helping them cash in a million dollar lottery ticket that ever even existed.
According to the victim, a clean cut looking Spanish speaking female and Hispanic male came to her door around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3.
The unknown female indicated that they were affiliated with a church and that she needed to use the restroom.
The 70-year-old victim allowed the couple into her home, and made small talk with the male, while the female was in the restroom.
Upon her exit, the couple told the victim that they were in possession of a lottery ticket worth one million dollars, but did not have identification to turn it in and claim their winnings. They requested the victim’s assistance and said they would give her $10,000 in return for her assistance.
The suspects then asked the victim to provide money as collateral. They first asked her for $40,000, however when the victim said she didn’t have that much money, they settled for the $30,000 that the victim did have, saved up from years of renting out half of her duplex and selling tamales every weekend in Bonita for the last several years.
She said the money was the culmination of her and her husbands life savings, which she kept in a thermos, hid behind a piece of furniture pushed up against the wall.
After receiving the victim’s $30,000, the female said she admired several gold rings the victim was wearing – including a mothers ring with two white stones. The female asked the victim if she could wear her rings, so that she, too, could appear wealthy when they cashed in the ticket.
The victim stated that throughout the encounter that the suspects were friendly, and appeared genuine and truthful, so she allowed the woman to borrow her jewelry. The three then got into the couple’s newer model, grey/blue mini van, with the victim in the front passenger seat and the female suspect in the back seat.
While traveling down the road, the female suspect said she was feeling ill, and asked if they could pull into the Walgreens at 11494 Bonita Beach Road SE and have the victim go into the store to get pain medicine. The victim, again sensing no trouble or concern for her safety, complied, and went into the store to purchase Advil and a bottle of Gatorade. When she left the store a few minutes later, the suspects, their vehicle and the victims $30,000 in a thermos was long gone.
Detectives are now hoping the public may be able to provide some insight as to who this thieving couple is. The female is described as being roughly 50 years of age, 5 feet 5 inches tall, heavy set, with reddish hair pulled into a bun. The male is described as roughly 25 years of age.
“What these two individuals did to this woman, by taking her life savings – every penny that she’d earned and saved – is despicable,” said Trish Routte, Crime Stoppers Coordinator. “They clearly took advantage of a senior citizen by putting on a fake façade of truth and honesty, which couldn’t be further from reality. We’re hoping the public can help identifying these two perpetrators, before they pry on any further victims.”
Anyone with information on who these two individuals may be are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477). All callers will remain anonymous and will be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000. Tips may also be made online at www.swflcrimestoppers.org or by texting a tip to CRIMES (274637) Keyword: REWARD.