Cryptocurrency-related scam victim goes after wrong person in Denver, traumatizes family

Cryptocurrency-related scam victim goes after wrong person in Denver, traumatizes family
Posted at 9:20 PM, Apr 21, 2022

DENVER — A recent scam resulted in only $150 in losses for one Denver family, but the repercussions left them traumatized.

On Thursday evening, a 20-year-old man in all black clothing and a red bandanna over his face was armed with two handguns, according to the Denver Police Department, when he showed up to a Denver home looking for a person named Jessica.

"Does Jessica live here?" a man is heard shouting on a home security system at a 13-year-old resident, standing outside the home.

The teen's mother would eventually come outside and learn that the man, identified as Omar Vargas, was searching for her relative Jessica because he believed she scammed him of his money.

Vargas was arrested by Denver police shortly after and was charged with felony menacing with a weapon.

Denver7 spoke with Jessica Otero Garcia to learn why a man who she says she's never met would threaten her family at a home she hasn't lived in for years.

"He could have hurt my aunt, he could have hurt my cousin, he could have shot one of them," she said as tears streamed down her face. "I honestly never thought that it would come to something so big that I have to basically be scared of my own life."

Back in November, Garcia saw a post on Facebook from someone posing to be a friend she knew in middle school.

The post said something along the lines of, "I'm here giving away money to teen moms to help them out."

Garcia, a young mom herself, was wary, but reached out anyway, thinking it was actually her friend. The scammer even showed Garcia a drivers license ID of her so-called friend to build trust.

Garcia was instructed to deposit money into Cash App, purchase Bitcoin with the cash, and send it to another account. Cash App allows for the exchange of money or cryptocurrency from one user to another.

She was promised a return of her money plus much more, but never saw any of it.

"So I'm like, 'OK, I just got scammed for $150.' I was like, 'That's fine. Whatever.'"

But she was fooled again.

Garcia then received a message from what appeared to be Facebook, though it wasn't, asking her to provide her email, phone number, and eventually a photo of her driver's license. Shortly after doing so, she was locked out of her account.

"Then, the next day, I started getting messages from my family like, 'Hey, why are you posting this?' And I was like, 'What are you guys talking about?' (They said), 'No, you're posting that you're giving away money,'" Garcia said.

The scammer was using her profile to go after others.

Countless requests to Facebook to deactivate the account were unsuccessful.

Then Thursday came around.

"They're traumatized. My family is traumatized and we don't know how we're gonna get through this," Garcia said.

According to Garcia, police learned why the suspect ended up at her house.

Police said "'everything makes sense. (Vargas) said that you had scammed him and that you owed him money,'" Garcia said.

Garcia said she believes the scammers who took control of her account sent her drivers license to Vargas as a means to build trust for a scam, which showed her previous address — hence why he showed up to her family's home.

According to police, Vargas is being charged with felony menacing with a weapon.

Bringing the scammers to justice on the other hand is a tougher bout. It's one that's usually fought over large regions, or even overseas, but one that came too close for one Denver family.