Valley residents lose nearly $ 50,000 trying to buy used cars

Valley residents lose nearly $ 50,000 trying to buy used cars

All victims used the same car salesman, a man identified in police records and lawsuits as Jorge Carlos Velarde Cruz.

MESA, Arizona – Buying a new car can be exciting, but for 18 Valley residents, it turned into a nightmare after they said they lost nearly $ 50,000 in cash.

All victims used the same vendor, a man identified in police records and lawsuits as Jorge Carlos Velarde Cruz.

RELATED: Phoenix used car salesman accused of stealing from employers and customers

Velarde promised to deliver the cars within a few weeks, but the victims never received a car or all the money they gave them as a down payment, according to the documents.

“I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt,” said Angelica Cabrera.

Cabrera, his father and brother together gave Velarde $ 10,000 in cash for two trucks and a car they wanted to buy from him in June 2021 at their home in Mesa. He gave them the receipts and told them that their new cars would be transported from Nevada and would arrive in Arizona within a week.

“That weekend, the cars didn’t come and he kept saying apology after apology. “Oh, the machines aren’t here; it will take a while longer. ‘ And that’s been going on for months, ”Cabrera said.

After pressure from Cabrera and his family, Velarde returned $ 2,800 on August 2, but that was the last time they heard from him, according to police.

“Once two, three weeks went by, and it was just one excuse after another, that’s when we were like ‘okay, this guy is cheating on us,'” he said.

Cabrera’s mother filed a complaint with the Mesa Police Department as she turned to Facebook and discovered that her family weren’t the only ones with their money.

18 alleged victims

On January 25, Edna Márquez said in a Facebook post that a man who promised to sell her a car would take off with his $ 5,000 in cash. She identified the man as Jorge Carlos Velarde Cruz and included a photo of her Mexican voter ID card.

“I posted it to see if anyone recognized him and told him to pay me back, that I needed that money for my medical bills,” said Márquez. “I was surprised I’m not the only one.”

The single mother of two is suffering from multiple sclerosis. Her condition worsens by the day, which requires her to see doctors several times a week, she said.

“My need for a car led me to make that decision and to trust my friend who referred me to him,” said Márquez.

Márquez agreed to buy a Jeep Cherokee from Velarde. His money was in the bank, and since he didn’t have a car, Velarde would volunteer to get it.

“He came to my house and we went to the bank,” she said. “He lined up for me because I can’t stand it for long due to my condition and I gave him the money back to my house.”

Márquez handed Velarde $ 5,000 in cash and, like Cabrera, also received a receipt for his “purchase” on June 4, 2021. The Jeep Cherokee was supposed to arrive days later, but that didn’t happen.

Velarde told her there had been problems with the load the cars were in and that she needed more time, she said. Márquez asked for her money back.

“I told him I could wait for him, but I needed an act of good faith, and that is that we would go to a notary and he would agree to pay me back,” said Márquez. “He came, he came to get me again and we got a letter that we both signed.”

“This letter informs anyone that Jorge Carlos Velarde will pay Edna L. Marquez Flores a lump sum of $ 5,000 in cash on Sunday, June 27, 2021. This is for the 2017 Jeep Cherokee ZRT Sport. In the event of non-payment, he has the right to proceed. in legal matters “.

But Velarde never returned a cent.

“He just crossed his arms and took the money, without worrying about my medical condition,” said Márquez.

On January 7, 2022, a judge ruled in his favor. He has posted all of his documents and evidence online.

“It went viral in a day,” said Márquez.

A pattern

Márquez’s social media post was shared 1,700 times and received nearly 900 comments. People shared their own stories of alleged similar encounters with a man who they also identified as Jorge Carlos Velarde Cruz.

“We just weren’t able to respond to him or anything,” said Ana Orozco.

Orozco, his sister and mother gave Velarde $ 6,000 in cash and Orozco’s 2014 Mercedes in exchange for three vehicles they never had, according to court documents.

“He would just give us an apology; was like “my son is dying” and then his mother died, “Orozco said.” Obviously, you end up feeling bad for him, like [maybe] life is not going the right way ”.

12News learned of 18 victims who lost $ 47,300 in cash and two cars worth $ 23,000, according to police reports.

All the victims said Velarde had been giving them an apology for weeks. In messages shared with 12News, Velarde is heard saying that her mother is dead and that she “had been sick for two days”.

In another audio message, Velarde said: “My brother had an accident last night. Thank God he’s fine ”.

Orozco’s mother received a video from Velarde showing a baby lying on a bed. Velarde claimed his son had been sick in the hospital but was “finally home” in his bed.

“I felt bad, honestly,” said Javier Bojorquez. “He called me in a broken voice, he told me that her mother was dead. I fell for it and said I’d give it time.

Bojorquez gave Velarde $ 4,500 as a down payment for a truck on August 3, 2021. Her last contact with him was in December after repeated apologies and no money returned.

In all cases, Velarde eventually stopped responding to all potential buyers.

12News has tried several times to reach Velarde and her home by phone, but without success.

The police investigate

Mesa police launched an investigation after receiving six reports of fraud involving 12 victims related to a suspect: Jorge Carlos Velarde Cruz.

Police reports show that investigators spoke to Velarde at least three times in 2021, at a police station, at his home, and on the phone in September, October and December.

In September, Velarde met with an officer at a police station after a woman reported agreeing to exchange her 2015 BMW and $ 3,500 in cash for a 2018 Jeep Rubicon, but the seller had not produced the car. , nor had he returned his vehicle, according to records.

The police let him go, as Velarde agreed to reimburse the victim for his money and the money he had obtained for the sale of the BMW. At the time of the complaint, the title of the car had been transferred to another owner, according to the documents.

In October, agents responded to the Mesa di Velarde home. A woman named Maria reported that she gave the seller $ 7,000 for a car she never produced and that she didn’t pay her back.

“Jorge acknowledged having made the transaction with Maria and Jorge acknowledged that he did not provide the vehicle he promised and did not refund Maria’s money,” the police report said.

Then, in December, while investigating yet another allegation of fraud involving a woman who had paid $ 4,000 for a car, the agents spoke on the phone with Velarde, who allegedly “admitted … that what is wrong is wrong. doing and that had to change, “according to the records.

During that same telephone conversation, police said Velarde “expressed remorse for his” misdeeds “,” the documents suggest.

During the investigation, officers noted several service calls to Velarde’s home relating to reports of fraud. Since several officers had responded to those calls, it was only with the December investigation that they linked the reports to the same alleged suspect.

According to the records, on 1 August 2021 Velarde called the police because “there were some subjects in his residence to whom he owed money and they refused to leave”.

Six victims positively identified Velarde in a lineup of photos as the man who they say took their money, according to records, including a woman whose civil suit against Velarde is still pending.

Mesa police presented the case to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, who rejected the case.

Records said the agency found prosecutors “cannot prove these transactions were criminal.”

In a statement to 12News, MCAO said the case “does not meet our standard of charging a reasonable likelihood of conviction and therefore charges will not be filed at this time.”

“We recognize that Jorge Carlos Velarde Cruz’s business practices are concerning and negatively impact members of our community. Unfortunately, the facts and evidence, in this case, do not demonstrate criminal intent that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This office is extremely sympathetic to those who have had relationships with this individual, “the statement read.

Another agency, the Arizona Inspector General’s Office, tells 12News that they are dealing with criminal cases involving cars and are willing to assist the Mesa police.

12News informed the Mesa police of this and a spokesperson said they are investigating.

“We’ve all worked hard for that money, and it’s not fair for someone to come and take your money,” Cabrera said. “He needs to stop doing it and I want him to pay for what he did.”

If you’ve had a similar experience, contact reporter Adriana Loya at [email protected]

SPANISH VERSION: Beware of the seller: 18 Valley residents say they lost nearly $ 50,000 trying to buy used cars

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