Real Name: Emma Figueroa
Wanted For: Fraud
Missing Since: 1991
Case[edit | edit source]
Details: In 1991, Emma Figueroa used a version of the "Pigeon Drop" called "Spanish Lotto" to defraud Clisedia Gonzalez, a New York social worker. One Spring afternoon, Clisedia was enjoying a day off when she was approached by Figueroa, who was calling herself "Lupita" and appeared to be in distress. She told her that she needed help finding her lawyer's office. She said she was very nervous, as she was carrying $10,000 in cash in her purse.
Lupita then enlisted the help of a well-dressed Latino man who was passing by. The young man's name was "Roberto". Like Clisedia, he was ready to lend a helping hand. However, Lupita felt that they might be overheard, so she convinced them to go to a small park nearby. She then told them that she had a winning lottery ticket. Roberto wanted to see if the ticket was legitimate, so he wrote down the ticket numbers. He then left to call and see if the numbers were indeed winning numbers.
While he was gone, Lupita told Clisedia that she did not trust him. However, a few minutes later, he returned and confirmed that the numbers were legitimate. Lupita then told them that she did not have papers, which was the reason why she was seeing a lawyer. She then suggested that she could give Clisedia and Roberto her $10,000 instead and that they could cash her lottery ticket. However, shortly after that, she began having second thoughts about trusting the two. She asked them both to give her $10,000 in "good faith" money.
Clisedia was hesitant, but Roberto left immediately to get her the money. While he was gone, Lupita again told Clisedia that she was uncertain if she could trust him. She told Clisedia that she trusted her more and was willing to share more money with her. Twenty minutes later, Roberto returned with an envelope full of bills. He and Clisedia then left to withdraw $3,500 from her bank, as she did not have $10,000 to give. He made a remarkable gesture of trust, leaving his briefcase and his $10,000 with Lupita.
Some time later, Clisedia and Roberto returned to Lupita with the $3,500. Lupita then complained of severe abdominal pains. She knew which medication she needed, but was too weak to buy it herself. Roberto agreed to go, once again leaving behind his $10,000. A few minutes later, he returned without the medicine, claiming that he was unable to find it. Lupita asked Clisedia to go, suggesting that it may be easier for her to get the medicine since she was a woman. Before Clisedia left to buy the medicine, Lupita made her own gesture of trust. She gave Clisedia the lottery ticket. In exchange, she asked to hold Clisedia's $3,500. She was hesitant, but decided to trust them.
When Clisedia returned from the drug store, she could not find either Lupita or Roberto. At that point, she began to realize that she had been ripped off. She had become another victim of the "Spanish Lotto" scam. The scam is so named because the victims and perpetrators are primarily Spanish speaking. The con artists select the winning lottery numbers on a previous date, for example May 1. They buy the ticked on a later, but closely matching date, such as May 11. They then alter the ticket to the "correct" date; for example, they would erase the second "1" in May 11 and make it May 1.
Unlike most victims of Spanish Lotto, Clisedia immediately went to the police. She now understood that Roberto had been part of the scam and that the ticket was worthless. After looking through thousands of mugshots, she was able to identify "Lupita" as Emma Figueroa. She had committed the scam several times in the past. Clisedia was unable to identify "Roberto" however.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the December 11, 1991 episode. It also featured a roll call of other Spanish Lotto practitioners, including Luis Herrera, Pedro Pumajero, Jose Rubio, Eduwigis Escalante and Juan Carlos Pereira.