Woman Who Stole Cousin’s $1M Winning Lottery Scratch-off Faces 15 Years

Posted on: November 11, 2021, 12:57h. 

Last updated on: November 11, 2021, 01:49h.

A woman has been charged with grand larceny after allegedly stealing her cousin’s $1 million lottery ticket. That’s according to a joint press release from the Nassau County DA’s Office and the Glen Cove Police Department.

Iris Argueta
A New York State Lottery $5 Hold ’Em Poker scratch-off ticket. Argueta is accused of stealing the $537,440 winnings from her cousin’s ticket and handing him just $13,436. (Image: YouTube)

Iris Amador Argueta, 32, who now lives in Houston, Texas, was given the ticket to cash because her Long Island-based cousin wanted to remain anonymous after his stroke of luck. He had purchased the winning ticket, a $5 Hold ’Em Poker scratch-off, at a 7-Eleven store in Glen Cove, Long Island.

According to prosecutors, Argueta agreed to be paid $50,000 in exchange for claiming the prize. She drove from Virginia, where she was living at the time, to Long Island to pick it up.

At the time, the New York Gaming Commission was not accepting winning tickets in person because of the pandemic. So, on November 13, 2020, Argueta mailed the ticket to the commission, prosecutors said.

Fake’ Letter

Several weeks later, she returned to her cousin’s residence with a letter she claimed was from the gaming commission, which prosecutors allege was fake. The letter said there had been a mistake and the prize was only $20,000.

Argueta handed her cousin an envelope containing $13,436, which she claimed was all that was left after tax deductions.

Argueta’s plan was almost perfect, but for one fatal flaw — her cousin had Google.

He quickly found a press release on the New York State Lottery website eulogizing her ‘$1,000,000’ win. The release indicated she had opted to receive a lump sum of $537,440 after taxes. 

When the cousin called Argueta to confront her, she threatened to sue him, and he called the police.

“Once the alleged crime was brought to the attention of the Glen Cove Police Department, an investigation immediately commenced. Glen Cove Detective Eddy Linares worked tirelessly with the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office investigating the allegations and gathering evidence,” said Detective Lieutenant John Nagle of the Glen Cove Police Department.

“As a result of the joint investigation, the suspect was subsequently located and arrested,” he added.

Bank Account Frozen

Following that investigation, Argueta’s bank account was frozen and $317,825.46 in allegedly stolen funds were seized.

Now, she faces up to 15 years in prison.

“This defendant exploited her cousin’s trust, allegedly lying and manipulating him with the aim of pocketing the lion’s share of his $1 million winning lottery ticket for herself,” said Acting Nassau County DA Joyce Smith.

“Thanks to a great working partnership with the Glen Cove Police Department, we’ve recovered more than $300,000 in allegedly stolen funds and will vigorously prosecute this case.”