Real Name: Omar Adalberto Arroyo
Aliases: Luis Omar
Wanted For: Fraud
Missing Since: October 25, 2001
Details: In 1997, Omar Arroyo and Mario Yunis opened a music school in a working class neighborhood in North Hollywood, California. Hundreds of parents soon signed up their children for the low cost lessons. Arroyo and Yunis hired several veteran instructors to teach the children the accordion. Yunis was a studio musician who was fluent in several languages while Arroyo was an up and coming salsa singer and used car salesman. There was nothing unusual about their carefully crafty sales pitch. Yunis was charming and persuasive and met with the parents while Arroyo worked behind the scenes. The two sold parents different music lesson packages.
Martha Gallardo bought one package for her daughter that included the purchase of an accordion, billed over a three year period, along with music lessons for three different instruments over a three year period. However, things began to fall apart when, one day, Martha arrived with her daughter for a lesson. They discovered that nobody was there; the first thing that came to Martha's mind was fraud. When Martha received her credit card bill, she found a single charge for the entire accordion, over $1,800. Allegedly, the accordion was actually a cheap import that was worth less than $300.
However, many other unsuspecting families who were unaware of certain laws protecting credit card victims were hit much harder, some totaling $20,000. The two apparently even duped their own employees, lying to them about the credit card scheme and paying them with bogus checks. According to the authorities, Arroyo and Yunis swindled the money through identity theft. By using the personal information from the school, they were able to open fraudulent credit card accounts. In just over a year, they stole $1.5 million.
Their scam unraveled when Martha and several other parents found out that the music school had re-opened in a different location. They tried to confront one of the school's managers, who was also part of the scheme. However, when a TV news crew arrived, the manager contacted the police. Despite the parents' claims of fraud, they were asked to leave and take their grievances to civil court. However, several parents, including Martha and her husband, decided to file criminal complaints.
Police detective Juan Baello quickly discovered that the two alleged swindlers ran several music schools under various aliases. During this time, they had gone on a spending spree with the stolen money. Arroyo used about $10,000 of the stolen money to cut a salsa CD under the name Luis Omar. His partner Mario Yunis also took on a new identity: Delia Leon, a woman after a sex-change operation. The operation cost $33,000 and was paid off with one of the parent's credit cards.
Arroyo and Leon became lovers and moved into a luxurious home in L.A.'s Woodland Hills. They also gave the impression of a family, with Arroyo's two children from a previous marriage living with them. However, an office assistant, who received several complaints from angry parents, decided to go to the police. Detectives followed the suspects for days and on October 25, 2001, armed with a search warrant, raided their home. Leon a.k.a. Yunis tried to escape through the backyard but was quickly caught. She denied any involvement in the scam. She also told police that Arroyo left just hours before and has not been seen since. Thanks to the parents involved in the case, and detective Juan Baello, Mario "Delia" Yunis was in custody. However, many parents still had to pay a heavy price and Arroyo is still at large.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the July 3, 2002 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Results: Captured. In August of 2003, Arroyo was arrested at his Curridabat, Costa Rica, home. At the time, he was running a music school and using his partner's name. He was extradited back to California and sentenced to six years in prison. His accomplice, Mario "Delia" Yunis, was sentenced to twelve years in prison.
- Omar Arroyo on Unsolved Archive
- Latin Salsa Singer Sought in Grand Theft Investigation
- Man wanted in $1.5 million fraud is caught here
- Con Artist Gets 12 Years for Music Lesson Scam