MINEOLA, N.Y. – Acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce A. Smith and the Glen Cove Police Department announced that a Texas woman was arrested and charged today with stealing nearly $1 million in prize money from her cousin, who had asked her to claim a winning New York State Lottery scratch-off ticket because he wanted to remain anonymous. The defendant also allegedly used forged paperwork to mislead her cousin about the value of the prize.
Iris Amador Argueta, 32, of Houston, Texas, surrendered to the Glen Cove Police Department on Monday and was arraigned today before Judge David Levine on charges of one count of grand larceny in the second degree (a C felony), and two counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree (a D felony). If convicted of the top count, the defendant faces up to five to 15 years in prison. Argueta is due back in court on November 23, 2021.
“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 DA 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.”
“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. As a result of the joint investigation, the suspect was subsequently located and arrested,” said Detective Lieutenant John Nagle of the Glen Cove Police Department.
According to the joint investigation by the Glen Cove Police Department and NCDA, on October 28, 2020, the victim purchased a New York State Lottery $5 Hold ‘Em Poker “scratch-off” ticket at a 7-Eleven convenience store located at 194 Glen Street in Glen Cove. When he scratched the ticket, it revealed a $1,000,000 jackpot prize.
The victim contacted Argueta and asked her to claim the prize on his behalf because he wished to remain anonymous. The victim promised Argueta $50,000 in exchange for claiming the prize and the defendant allegedly agreed.
The defendant allegedly drove to New York from her home at the time in Virginia and received the winning ticket from the victim. Because of COVID-19 precautions, the NYS Gaming Commission was not accepting winning tickets in person, and instead, on November 13, 2020, the defendant allegedly mailed the winning ticket to the NYS Gaming Commission.
Weeks later, the defendant appeared at the victim’s residence with paperwork purporting to be from the New York State Lottery, which indicated that the prize amount was only $20,000. The defendant allegedly also handed the victim an envelope containing $13,436 in cash and told him that the rest of the money was kept for taxes.
According to the investigation, an internet search later revealed a press release on the NYS Lottery website that indicated Argueta had claimed the $1,000,000 prize from the ticket purchased in Glen Cove. The release further indicated that the defendant received the lump-sum payout of $537,440 after taxes.
Having learned of the press release, the victim called the defendant who allegedly insisted that she did not have any additional money for the victim and that if he continued to contact her, he would suffer legal consequences.
The joint investigation determined that the defendant received $537,440 from the NYS Gaming Commission as the lump-sum prize and the paperwork allegedly shown by the defendant to the victim was forged.
The Glen Cove Police Department and Nassau County District Attorney’s Office have recovered $317,825.46 in allegedly stolen funds from the defendant’s bank account which are being held.
The District Attorney wishes to thank the Glen Cove Police Department for their continued assistance with this investigation.