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Brooksville woman accused of defrauding neighbors of $500,000

By TONY HOLT | Hernando Today

Published: March 24, 2010

Updated: 03/24/2010 04:33 pm

Doris Siegel

BROOKSVILLE – A victim of a lottery scam wouldn’t let go of the expectation of a jackpot, so she went to her friends and neighbors and dragged them into it, detectives said.

Doris Siegel, 78, spent the last six years stealing more than $500,000 from her neighbors, duping them into thinking she was a foreign lottery winner and assuring them they could get a cut of the action, police said.

Brooksville police on Wednesday arrested Siegel and charged her with organized fraud.

Chief George Turner said he expected more victims “to come out of the woodwork” in the coming days and weeks, but wanted to put Siegel behind bars before she could steal more money.

Siegel, who still thinks she has winnings coming from Nigeria, begged detectives for house arrest for fear she would miss a phone call from her foreign contacts, Turner said.

“We put her in jail, mainly to protect other folks out there,” Turner said.

Siegel stole $400,000 from one victim, $78,000 from a married couple, $22,000 from another and $7,800 from another, according to Brooksville police.

Four of the five victims lived in the Hometown Clover Leaf Forest RV Park. The fifth victim, who had $300,000 in cash stolen from her and spent another $100,000 on her credit card, lived elsewhere, detectives said.

The chief said all of them were basically “cleaned out.”

Siegel was told twice by police — once in 2004 and again in 2008 — that her dealings with a group of Nigerian businessmen were part of a fraud.

Turner said she was not delusional, but instead was purposely deceitful when she tricked her neighbors and friends into giving her more money.

A surveillance tape captured her lying to some of the victims, detectives said.

Turner said prior to her arrest, Siegel confessed to police she misled people to obtain their money.

Her story to the victims reportedly changed several times during the years.

At one point, she told them she needed the money for a Guatemalan charity she claimed to have founded called Price Mission, detectives said.

She also told them she needed their money for a Holland lottery, Nigerian lottery and tax payments on those lotteries, according to police.

She also promised a double return on the money they gave her, detectives said.

In August 2008, Siegel boarded a plane with one of the victims and they flew to Amsterdam, Netherlands, to meet with a group of Nigerian businessmen.

Turner described what happened next:

They encountered five men, who took them to the basement of a building.

The men told them they could see the lottery winnings, but only after they paid $10,000. The victim forked over the cash.

They took the money and went into another room. They came out of the room and showed them one $100 bill.

Turner thinks the businessmen fooled them using the victim’s own cash.

“It’s just ridiculous,” he said.

The case remains an open investigation. It is not yet known whether all of the money collected by Siegel has been sent overseas.

“She knew this was a scam all along,” Turner said. “She didn’t use her own money to send over there.”


March 25, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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