A 25-year-old man has been arrested after he took advantage of a "disabled, mentally ill, drug addicted" teenager and extorted her father out of hundreds of dollars, prosecutors say.
Jeff, who did not want his last name published out of concern for his daughter, said that o
n Jan. 17, someone who seemed genuinely concerned about his daughter called from her cell phone to say she was being held against her will because she "owed money to a bad man," according to court documents.
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While most people may assume it's a scam, Jeff had reason to believe it could be true. His 18-year-old daughter has been out on her own for a while after experiencing a mental health crisis. She's vulnerable and wasn't answering the phone, he said.
"I always thought that they could have had her, you know?" Jeff said.
The person on the phone agreed to meet Jeff in the parking lot of the Safeway on Greenwood Avenue to negotiate her return. Jeff says he was asked to bring $1,500 if he wanted to see his daughter again.
Jeff got the cash and met the suspect in the parking lot, making sure to interact with the man in an area that was well lit and under surveillance. He handed over $500, adding that he would pay the rest when his daughter was safely returned.
"I guess I'm pretty gutsy to go through this, but I had no fear," Jeff said.
Minutes later, the man came back and said they didn't have a deal. He seemed scared, Jeff said.
"I don’t advise people to this because I was really angry but I did yank off his wallet and
hat just so I had something of value of his," he said.
He gave the man another $500 but he never returned for his wallet and hat. However, that ended up helping investigators arrest Dario Meguire, 25, who admitted Jeff's teenage daughter was never being held against her will. While there was no ID in the wallet, Dario's name was written on it. Investigators were able to track him using that and surveillance images from Safeway.
Jeff may be out $1000, but he says in this case, it was worth it.
"At least, I got two of them put away who are perpetuating this crime," he said.
Meguire is now facing a charge for extortion. An accomplice was arrested as well, investigators said.
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