Woman faces four years in prison for stealing $1million lottery win from her cousin

Texas woman, 34, faces four years in prison for stealing $1M lottery scratch card win from her cousin after telling him she’d collect it because he wanted anonymity

  • Iris Amador Argueta, 34, of Houston, Texas, stole $537,440 in lottery winnings
  • Her cousin won $1m but wanted to remain anonymous so asked her to claim
  • Argueta agreed but claimed all the money and forged papers to claim otherwise

A Texas woman has pleaded guilty to stealing her cousin’s $1million lottery jackpot by showing him forged documents to convince him the payout was only $20,000.

Iris Amador Argueta, 34, will be sentenced to between one and four years in prison after admitting that she received $537,440 as a lump sum payment on behalf of her cousin who asked her to claim the money for him so he could remain anonymous.

On October 28, 2020, her unidentified cousin bought a $5 New York State Lottery Hold ‘Em Poker ‘scratch-off’ ticket at a 7-Eleven in Glen Cove.

In May 2022, $317,857.13 was taken from Argueta’s bank account and transferred to her cousin, according to the Nassau County District Attorney’s office.

Nassau County District Attorney’s office are yet to confirm if or when the balance will be paid.

Iris Amador Argueta, 34, has pleaded guilty to stealing her cousin's $1million lottery jackpot by showing him forged documents to convince him the payout was only $20,000

Iris Amador Argueta, 34, has pleaded guilty to stealing her cousin’s $1million lottery jackpot by showing him forged documents to convince him the payout was only $20,000

After learning that he had won a $1million jackpot he contacted Argueta and asked her if she could claim the money on his behalf in exchange for $50,000, a deal to which she agreed, according to the Nassau County DA’s Office.

Argueta, who was living in Virginia at the time, drove up to meet her cousin in New York and collect the ticket. Due to COVID-19 restrictions the New York State lottery was not accepting tickets in person so she mailed it to the New York State Gaming Commission on November 13.

A few weeks later Argueta showed up to her cousin’s house with bad news. She told him that the winnings were in fact only $20,000 and used forged papery from New York State Lottery to back it up.

She also gave her cousin an envelope containing $13,436 in cash, claiming that the balance had paid in the form of tax.

In reality she had secretly cashed out more than half a million dollars.

With lottery winnings a player can either accept a smaller sum up front or a larger amount in installments. The lump sum payout for her cousin’s $1million poker scratch card winnings was $537,440 – all of which she claimed.

The lump sum payout for her cousin's $1million poker scratch card winnings was $537,440 - all of which she secretly claimed

The lump sum payout for her cousin’s $1million poker scratch card winnings was $537,440 – all of which she secretly claimed

Her cousin was suspicious of his cousin and after some digging eventually discovered a press release on the New York State Lottery website which revealed that Argueta had in fact claimed the $1million winnings.

A web page on the website which features her name appears to been taken down.

When he called her to find out what was going on she reacted negatively and threatened to take legal action against him if he called her again.

Glen Cove Police Department then investigated the case when the cousin reported the theft. Argueta will be sentenced on March 15. 

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