HIALEAH, FLA. (WSVN) - A Hialeah couple is accused of grand theft in a scheme involving scratch-off tickets.
The duo, 31-year-old Roberto Montes and 29-year-old Ana Ramirez, were arrested by police on Thursday.
According to investigators, Ramirez was working at the Aries Supermarket, located along the 5900 block of West 25th Court, and was in charge of the lottery scratch-offs.
Authorities said she would take the lottery ticket books, activate them and record the activation on their weekly log.
Police said Ramirez would then hide the lottery ticket books in a plastic store bag and hide it under the counter for the rest of her shift.
Detecives said her husband was in on the deal and would buy groceries from the store,then take the plastic bag with the lottery tickets.
Police said the scheme started small back in March. In the end, 28,000 scratch-off tickets were stolen.
Investigators said that the store and the Florida LottIery has suffered a loss of approximately $236,000.
“Most fraudsters, in my experience in investigations, they’ll always start small,” said Hialeah Police Sgt. Yoshua Garfinkel. “They never start stealing massive amounts of things. They always start small to see how much they can get away with. If you’re committing fraud in the City of Hialeah, there’s only one thing I want to let you know: we’re probably behind you, and we’re definitely going to catch you.”
Montes and Ramirez are facing fraud and grand theft charges.
Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for the Florida Lottery issued a statement that reads, “The Lottery’s very existence and mission is predicated on the public’s trust, confidence and transparency in our operations; as such, we have a zero-tolerance policy for fraudulent activity. The Lottery’s Division of Security conducts ongoing, proactive integrity efforts to heighten awareness around security and works diligently to identify and take swift action against any dishonest behavior.”
Ramirez has since bonded out of jail. She declined to comment on her charges.
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