Valley residents lose nearly ,000 trying to buy used cars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cabrera, her 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 receipts and told them their new cars would be shipped from Nevada and arrive in Arizona within a week.

“That weekend the cars didn’t come and he just kept repeating excuse after excuse. “Oh, the cars are not here; it will take them a little longer. And it went on like that for months,” Cabrera said.

After pressure from Cabrera and her family, Velarde returned the $2,800 on Aug. 2, but that was the last time he was heard from, according to police.

“One time two, three weeks went by and it was just excuse after excuse, then we were like, ‘okay, this guy is cheating us,'” she said.

Cabrera’s mother filed a report with the Mesa Police Department until she took to Facebook and found out her family wasn’t the only one who made off with their money.

18 victims

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

“I posted it to see if someone would recognize it and tell him to give me back that I need this money for my medical expenses,” Marquez said. “I was surprised I wasn’t the only one.”

The single mother of two suffers from multiple sclerosis. Her condition worsened by the day, requiring her to see doctors several times a week, she said.

“My need for a car made me make this decision and I trusted my friend who referred me to it,” Marquez said.

Marquez agreed to purchase the Jeep Cherokee from Velarde. Her money was in the bank, and since she didn’t have a car, Velarde allegedly volunteered to drive her.

“He came to my house and we went to the bank,” she said. “He queued for me because I can’t stay too long due to my condition and I paid him back at my home.”

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

Velarde told her there were problems with the cargo the cars were in and that he needed more time, she said. Marquez demanded her money back.

“I told him I could wait it out, but I needed an act of goodwill and that was to go to a notary and he would agree to give me my money back,” Marquez said. “He came and picked me up again and we got a letter that we both signed.”

“This letter informs everyone 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 a 2017 Jeep Cherokee ZRT Sport. In the event of non-payment, she has the right to proceed on legal matters.

But Velarde never paid back a penny.

“He just folded his arms and took the money, not caring about my medical condition,” Marquez said.

On January 7, 2022, a judge ruled in her favor. It publishes all its documents and evidence online.

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

Model

Marquez’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 they also identified as Jorge Carlos Velarde Cruz.

“We just haven’t been able to get in touch with him or anything like that,” Ana Orozco said.

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

“He just gives us excuses; he said, ‘My son is dying,’ and then his mother died,” Orozco said. “Obviously you end up feeling bad for him [maybe] life is not going your way.”

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

All the victims said Velarde had been giving them excuses for weeks. In messages shared with 12News, Velarde was heard saying his mother had passed away 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 is fine.”

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

“I felt bad, to be honest,” Javier Bojorquez said. “He called me in a broken voice and told me that his mother had died. I caught myself and said I would give him time.

Boyorquez gave Velarde $4,500 as a down payment on a truck on August 3, 2021. His last contact with him was in December after repeated apologies and no refund.

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

12News made repeated attempts to reach Velarde and his home by phone, but were unsuccessful.

The police are investigating

Mesa police began an investigation after receiving six reports of a scam with 12 victims linked to one suspect: Jorge Carlos Velarde Cruz.

Police reports show detectives spoke with Velarde at least three times in 2021, at a police station, at his home and by phone in September, October and December.

In September, Velarde met with an officer at a police station after a woman reported that she agreed to trade her 2015 BMW and $3,500 in cash for a 2018 Jeep Rubicon, but the seller did not bring the car, nor was returned her vehicle, according to records.

Police let him go because Velarde agreed to return the victim’s money and the money he received for selling the BMW. At the time of the report, according to the documents, the car was transferred to another owner.

In October, officers responded to Velarde’s home in Mesa. A woman named Maria reported that she gave the seller $7,000 for a car he never produced, and he didn’t want to give her back.

“Jorge admitted that he made the transaction with Maria, and Jorge admitted that he did not provide the vehicle he promised and that he did not reimburse Maria,” the police report said.

Then in December, while investigating another report of alleged fraud involving a woman who paid $4,000 for a car, officers spoke with Velarde on the phone and he allegedly “admitted … that what he was doing was wrong and that he needed to change.” , according to records.

During the same phone call, police said Velarde “expressed remorse for his ‘wrongdoing,'” documents state.

While investigating, officers noticed several calls to Velarde’s home involving reports of fraud. Because different officers responded to those calls, it wasn’t until the December investigation that they linked the reports to the same alleged suspect.

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

Six victims positively identified Velarde in a photo lineup as the man they say took their money, including a woman whose civil suit against Velarde is still pending.

Mesa police sent their case to the Maricopa County District Attorney’s Office, which dismissed the case.

Records said the agency found that prosecutors “could not prove that these transactions were criminal.”

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

“We recognize that the business practices of Jorge Carlos Velarde Cruz are disturbing and negatively impacting members of our community. Unfortunately, the facts and evidence in this case do not demonstrate a criminal intent that can be proven beyond doubt. This office is extremely sympathetic to those who dealt with this man,” the statement said.

Another agency, the Arizona Office of the Inspector General, tells 12News they handle criminal cases involving vehicles and are willing to assist Mesa police.

12News notified Mesa police about it and a spokesperson said they are looking into it.

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

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

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