SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - An Ocoee man is accused of using the names and information of several well-known celebrities, athletes and lawmakers to write and cash fake checks.
“This is another clear case of identity theft and it shows us no one is immune,” said FLDE agent Danny Banks.
According to court paperwork, Michael Watters used the names of 22 famous individuals, including:
- Johnny Damon, professional baseball player
- Howie Dorough, Backstreet Boys singer
- Jennifer Capriati, professional tennis player
- Randal Thomas, attorney, Morgan & Morgan
- John Morgan, attorney, Morgan & Morgan
- Barry Larkin, professional basketball player
- Joseph Philbin, professional basketball coach
- Jason Taylor, professional football player
- Zach Thomas, professional football player
- Matthew Birk, professional football player
- Sterling Hitchcock, professional basketball player
The investigation started more than three years ago, when police were called to the Home Depot in Altamonte Springs for the report of someone using drugs in the parking lot. When they arrived, they said they found Watters had several fake drivers licenses with names and information of several well-known people.
Investigators said Watters used fraudulent checks with the names of those celebrities and other personal information at various stores to pay for thousands of dollars in goods and services. Watters would then return the goods for cash, investigators said.
According to FDLE, Watters said he liked to do the purchase-and-return scheme for the “thrill” of it.
Banks said people like Watters who steal other people’s identities sometimes have nothing to lose.
“Sometimes they are in prison. This individual was doing federal prison time for just this kind of act,” Baker said. “We are coming after them if they don’t learn their lesson.”
The Backstreet Boys’ Dorough told investigators that collection companies were calling and he could not figure out how his information was used for fraudulent checks.
Watters is in the Seminole County Jail on $220,000 bond.
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