A Texas woman has admitted to taking her cousin's $1 million lottery winning ticket after attempting to convince him the reward was just $20,000 by presenting him with forged documentation.
Iris Amador Argueta, 34, will get a term of one to four years in prison after she admitted to accepting a lump sum payment of $537,440 on behalf of her cousin, who urged her to claim the money on his behalf so he could maintain his anonymity.
Her unnamed cousin purchased a $5 New York State Lottery Hold 'Em Poker "scratch-off" ticket on October 28, 2020, at a 7-Eleven in Glen Cove.
After learning that he had won a $1 million jackpot, he got in touch with Argueta and offered her $50,000 in exchange for her helping him collect the money.
At the time, Argueta, who was a resident of Virginia, drove up to see her cousin in New York and pick up the ticket. She mailed it to the New York State Gaming Commission on November 13 because the New York State Lottery was unable to accept tickets in person due to COVID-19 regulations.
Argueta delivered bad news at her cousin's home a few weeks later. She presented him with fake New York State Lottery paperwork and informed him that the prizes were actually only $20,000
In addition, she delivered her cousin an envelope containing $13,436 in cash while saying that the remaining amount had been paid in taxes.
After some investigation since he was suspicious about his cousin, he found a press release on the New York State Lottery website that stated Argueta had indeed claimed the $1 million winnings.
She had a negative reaction when he called to ask what was going on and threatened to sue him if he called her again.
Argueta's cousin received $317,857.13 that was taken from her bank account in May 2022, according to the Nassau County District Attorney's office.
A judgment order for the remaining $206,147 will be issued when Argueta is sentenced in May, the district attorney's office said, adding that when she entered a plea of guilty, Argueta informed the court that she did not have the whole amount on hand.