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Weeki Wachee man charged with multiple counts of theft, fraud

WEEKI WACHEE — For months, authorities say, Zachary Jon Daniels harassed his wife, defrauded strangers and even filed a false tax return in his mother's name while she was in prison.

Daniels, 32, has been arrested and charged with 35 theft-related counts. He was held without bail.

Among the accusations, authorities say he impersonated a law enforcement officer nine times in order to intimidate his estranged wife.

Daniels was jealous of his wife's new male friend, a Hernando County Sheriff's Office report said. So, Daniels used software to mask his voice and make his outgoing phone number match that of the Sheriff's Office or the FBI. At different times, investigators say, he identified himself as a deputy or an FBI agent and told his wife that her new friend was under investigation and said both of them had been under surveillance for more than two years.

In another scam, authorities say, Daniels sold his 2007 Honda Civic on the Internet for $9,500 to a man in Georgia but never delivered it. Also, he sold it to a man in Seffner for $9,700 in cash but never supplied the title. Because Daniels owed more than $10,000 on the car and had quit making payments, the Civic's original financer repossessed it from the Seffner man.

Daniels is also accused of stealing a St. Petersburg man's identity to create a fraudulent corporation and gain employment at a merchant services company. When the company's staff discovered the fraud, reports show, they fired Daniels and alerted the St. Petersburg man, who said he knew nothing about it.

While his mother was incarcerated at Lowell Correctional Institution in Marion County, Daniels filed a false income tax return in her name, investigators say. When authorities contacted her in prison, the woman confirmed she didn't authorize the return and asked to press charges against her son.

Deputies say they are still investigating Daniels and believe he may have electronically filed other fraudulent tax returns.

Weeki Wachee man charged with multiple counts of theft, fraud 05/26/11 [Last modified: Thursday, May 26, 2011 7:59pm]
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