HIALEAH, Fla. (WFLA) — An elderly woman in Florida was robbed and kidnapped by a couple in a lottery scam, police said.
According to a police report, the victim, 75-year-old Maria Ortega, was walking home from the grocery store when she was approached by Lady Milena Rojas-Chauta, 39, and David Alberto Agudelo, 32.
The pair allegedly told Ortega that they won a lottery ticket and were going to give her a good amount of cash.
NBC affiliate WTVJ reported that the pair were trying to defraud Ortea through a lottery scam known as “pigeon drop,” where the victim is asked to provide money to secure a larger amount of money, police said.
The report said Rojas-Chauta asked Ortega if she could use her restroom and Ortega let her inside the home.
Once inside, investigators said Rojas-Chauta pressed an unknown object into Ortega’s back and demanded all her jewelry,
“She hit me with something,” Ortega told WTVJ in Spanish. “That’s when she said ‘give me all your jewelry’ and I handed everything over.”
The report said Ortega gave the couple about $2,000 worth of jewelry. Rojas-Chauta then reportedly ordered Ortega out of the home and into a car that Agudelo drove.
The couple drove Ortega to a bank in Hialeah, where she was ordered to withdraw $1,200 from her account, a report said.
Police said the couple then drove Ortega to a home where she was ordered to knock on the door and ask for $1,000 and as she did, the couple fled the scene.
“I started crying and screaming. I felt so nervous but managed to call police,” Ortega told the news station.
Detectives said they were able to track down the couple’s vehicle, a silver Ford Explorer with a distinctive black stripe decal on its doors and a square white sticker, after reviewing surveillance footage.
Police said Ortega picked Agudelo, out of a photo lineup.
When investigators found Rojas-Chauta, they said she had the same knuckle tattoo that was seen on the female suspect in the surveillance footage, WTVJ reported.
Agudelo and Rojas-Chauta were booked into jail, where they are being held without bond.
Police said they face charges of kidnapping, armed robbery, and exploitation of the elderly.
“I feel scared and I’m scared to go out. Yesterday was my first day out and I could not go out alone,” Ortega told WTVJ. “Every night I have nightmares. I see his face and her face. I thought I was going to be killed.”