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Pair cons woman out of $8,000

Police said the Latino suspects could have been transients or gypsies who don't pick victims at random.

October 20, 2010|By Gretchen Meier, gretchen.meier@latimes.com

Police are searching for a pair who conned a 72-year-old Burbank woman out of $8,000 after claiming they would let her in on a winning lottery ticket.

The woman, who police would not identify, was approached at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 13 by a woman asking for directions near the intersection of South Glenoaks Boulevard and East Valencia Avenue, according to the police report.

A man soon joined the conversation also asking for directions.

The elderly woman agreed to drive around the neighborhood with the pair to help find nearby addresses.

During the drive, the female suspect — described as a 35-year-old Latina — told her that if the three of them raised $28,000, they would be able to split a $500,000 winning lottery ticket.

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The couple drove the woman to her bank where she withdrew $8,000 and placed the cash into a postal bag that allegedly contained the other two people's share of the money. She was then driven to a 7-Eleven store in North Hollywood to purchase water. When she returned to the vehicle, described as a four-door silver SUV, the couple was gone and the postal bag only contained wrapped paper.

"If you didn't play the lottery, you're not going to win the lottery," said Burbank Police Sgt. Darin Ryburn. "'I need your help because I don't have a bank account' is an absolute scam."

Police officials warn that transient groups or gypsies pass through Burbank and the surrounding region two to four times a year.

"These aren't just random people they pick," Ryburn said. "They watch the victims go to the bank and go to the store to learn their habits."

Retirees and single individuals are often targeted.

Nearby Glendale has heard of similar incidents, but police officials there said they currently have no documented reports matching the couple described in the latest Burbank incident.

The woman was described as 5-foot-2 inches tall with a thin build and long, light-brown hair. She was wearing a pink blouse and light-colored pants. The man was also Latino, 50 years old with a thin build and short, spiky black hair. He was clean-shaven and wearing a long, dark-blue jacket and dark pants.

Both spoke Spanish, police said.

Officials recommended writing down license plate numbers and to always ask for identification when approached with similar propositions.

"They really found a perfect victim," Ryburn said. "And it's a shame."

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