Lottery scam – warning issued
Posters and leaflets alerting the public to a high-value fraud will be distributed across Leicester after several people were scammed out of nearly £200,000.
Since April last year we have had more than 25 reports of victims being approached on the street by individuals claiming they had won the lottery and because they were illegal immigrants, without a passport or valid identification, they were unable to claim the winnings.
The victims would then be asked for money in return for the winning lottery ticket. In some cases, the victims were elderly or vulnerable and as much as £50,000 in cash and jewellery has been handed over to the suspects.
Recent reports suggest that the suspects, who could be men or women, have also driven victims to banks to withdraw the cash.
In the majority of incidents elderly Asian people, whose first language may not be English, have been targeted. Therefore posters and leaflets in Punjabi and Gujarati warning people of the scam will be distributed in East Leicester, West Leicester and the city centre area.
The posters will be displayed in key community buildings including religious establishments and community centres.
DC Catherine Thompson has been investigating the majority of incidents, she said: “Despite the previous appeals and warnings we’ve issued, people are still falling victim to this scam. Our enquiries have identified that the vast majority of victims are elderly people, who may not speak or read English.
“As a result we will be distributing leaflets and posters, which have been translated into Punjabi and Gujarati, in the hope that the warning will reach those who could be approached in similar circumstances.
“We would also encourage the public to pass the warning on to relatives or friends who may not necessarily see the messages.
“If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Large amounts of money have been handed over to complete strangers and we need to stop these offenders. We can only do that with your assistance, if you or someone you know has been approached in similar circumstances please report it, you may be able to provide vital details which could lead us to those responsible.”
In March this year we issued a photograph of a man we wished to trace in connection with a number of the incidents. Herito Marquez, 39, is believed to be involved in scams in Leicester and the West Midlands. Despite the appeal, we were unable to locate him.
If you have any information about his whereabouts or if you can have been approached by someone of a similar appearance we urge you to get in touch.
Anyone with any information about the incidents or Herito Marquez is asked to contact DC 4626 Catherine Thompson on 101, quoting crime reference number 16*220722.