Reporting Jennifer McLogan
MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. (CBS 2) – Imagine buying tickets to win a million-dollar waterfront home – only to be told the house isn’t even for sale.
That’s what happened to thousands of ticket holders looking for their dream home, and investigators say the accused scammer used the money to live in the lap of luxury, reports CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Cynthia King Sumner is a high school teacher and mother of two. She thought she was buying raffle tickets of a lifetime – at $50 a pop – for a magnificent home on a Massapequa canal.
“[I put my] hopes and dreams into winning a home on the South Shore,” Sumner said. “I got scammed.”
Instead, according to the Nassau County district attorney, Sumner and thousands of others were victimized by a heartless scam artist who lied, stole and cheated them out of their money.
“Now that I know the possible number of victims, I feel as hurt as they do, because this is Long Island, housing is a problem,” Sumner said.
Suspect Scott Cicerone postponed, and then cancelled, the lottery. Victims begged for refunds, but the self-employed record enthusiast denies he personally pocketed more than $100,000 in bogus raffle money using a souped-up Web site, PayPal account and fast-talking gimmicks.
“He brought in, through this fraudulent raffle, just over $100,000, through both people writing checks and also going through the PayPal account that was set-up,” Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said. “By the time we froze the account, there was only about $2,300 left in it.”
So what did Cicerone spend the money on? The alleged money trail led investigators to airline tickets, luxury hotels and exotic junkets, car rentals, and personal payments on Cicerone’s Mercedes-Benz.
The lucky winner was supposed to get that Mercedes, along with the $1.6 million, five-bedroom mansion.
The judge was holding Cicerone on $10,000 bond.
“If you looked at the Web site, you’d see that he absolutely intended to hold the raffle,” Cicerone’s attorney, Scott Limmer, said.
“What did he do with the money?” Sumner said. “He’s got the house, he’s got the money, he’s got the car – why scam us?”
Victims say refunds would be a dream ending to their nightmare.
Home raffles are illegal in Nassau County – only charities are allowed to hold them.