Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Fernando Zapico a.k.a. Carlos Garcia

Real Name: Fernando Zapico
Aliases: Carlos Garcia, John H. Rochels, Fred Rochels, Numael Prieto, Margano Sanchez Rivera
Wanted For: Fraud, Embezzlement
Missing Since: 1993


Details: The Holy Family Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia, serves a small, tight-knit Hispanic community. Most members are low-income or middle class. In 1985, the church welcomed a businessman named Carlos Garcia as a new member. Many of the church members felt that he was a nice, honest, and trustworthy individual. By 1988, he had been elected president and treasurer of the local pastoral council, which oversaw the church budget and expenditures. It was an important and prestigious position. Everyone still considered him very trustworthy.
Garcia used his position in the church to attract clients to a seemingly legitimate tax preparation business. Over several years, Donaciana and Irma Naranjo gave him more than $13,000 to turn over to the IRS. However, the IRS never received the money. The Naranjos had come from Mexico and knew little about U.S. taxes. Garcia had helped to arrange their citizenship and immigration cards. They felt that he was a very helpful person. Garcia obtained personal and confidential information from several community members. He used that information to order credit cards in their names and their deceased relatives' names. He bought expensive items and charged them to these cards.
For six years, Garcia also dated a woman, "Anna", who had no idea that he was involved in criminal activities. He encouraged Anna's mother to invest a large amount of money into a CD. He claimed that the interest rate would be better at his credit union. He took the money and put it into the credit union. Anna and her mother did not know that he had co-signed for the account. He soon emptied the account of $25,000.
For eight years, he continued his schemes in Virginia Beach. Then, one of his clients became suspicious and contacted the IRS inspection office. The client claimed that for three years, she had given Garcia cash that he was supposed to send to the IRS. She became suspicious when she learned that the IRS had no record of these payments. In 1993, the client contacted Garcia to talk about the money. IRS agents were with her, listening in and recording the conversation. He claimed that he had the records regarding the money and the IRS and that he would "take care of it".
A few days later, Garcia was arrested; however, he posted bail and vanished one week later. When investigators searched through his records and documents, they discovered that his real name was Fernando Zapico. Zapico, a native of Argentina, is at the center of several fraudulent activities stretching back for decades throughout the United States. He has bilked victims along the East Coast of millions of dollars. Zapico is wanted for fraud and embezzlement charges in Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
Extra Notes: This segment originally ran on the March 24, 1995 episode.
Results: Captured. Thanks to a viewer tip, Fernando Zapico was arrested in Miami, Florida, in September of 1997. At the time, he was working at a convenience store. He pleaded guilty to bank fraud, credit fraud, and other felonies. He was sentenced to two years in federal prison and has since been released.