A onetime car service owner from Commack usurped the identities of his daughter and a longtime friend to steal $255,000 to support two addictions — gambling and $2,000 a week for heroin, Suffolk police said early Wednesday.
Michael Katcher, 44, of Commack, used the identities to open numerous fraudulent business and credit cards accounts, police said. He also set up fake transportation companies and charged clients for services they never requested or received, Suffolk police said.
In addition, Katcher is being questioned in a bigger but similar scam — more than $650,000 in fraudulent charges outlined in court lawsuit papers investigators found at his home, said Suffolk police Det. Sgt. Mark Pulaski of the identity theft section.
Katcher, of Donna Lane, is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday in the identity theft case on three counts of first-degree identity theft, six counts of second-degree forgery and two counts of issuing a bad check, police said.
Katcher has not been charged in the lawsuit case because investigators from the identity theft section and First Precinct crime section were still questioning him early Wednesday, police said.
Between July and November 2015, Katcher used access to his friend’s company, New York City-based Alpine Limousine, to steal customers’ credit card information, start a shell company with the same name and attempt to steal his friend’s clients, Pulaski said.
The real Alpine is now on the hook for $170,000 if the company cannot prove to duped clients that the charges were made without the company’s permission, police said.
Katcher also created other fake car-service companies that he named TAK Transportation, Charmwood and McKewens Limousine, and billed victims’ credit card accounts, police said.
He told investigators he had been addicted to heroin for more than a year and had a $100,000 a year gambling habit, Pulaski said.
The case came to officers’ attention when Katcher, who at one point ran a limousine service, wrote an employee a fraudulent check from an account he had opened in the name of his 21-year-old daughter without her knowledge, police said.
Pulaski said lawsuit papers showed Katcher had been sued by one large company, which allegedly lost $425,000, and two small ones, because he had used the three in fraudulent credit transactions. He said other details on this case were not immediately available because the investigation is ongoing.