Philadelphia police believe they have identified the man accused of impersonating an officer to scam several local gay men.
Police have issued an arrest warrant for Michael Daniels, 26. When apprehended, Daniels will be charged with several counts of burglary, criminal conspiracy, theft, theft by deception, theft by extortion, criminal trespass and impersonating an officer.
Sgt. Ray Evers said that in the past several months, four men filed police reports after being approached by a man who had responded to their ads for sex partners on Craigslist.com. Daniels arranged to meet the victims in person and, in each case, identified himself as a Philadelphia police officer and threatened to arrest them for solicitation of a minor, saying they did not verify his age in their online communications.
Daniels wore a detective’s badge, carried handcuffs and a walkie-talkie and made phone calls during his interaction with the victims that appeared as though he was in contact with other detectives.
Daniels allegedly told each man that the charges could be dropped in exchange for money. Three of the men spoke with PGN and, while one refused to pay, two of them traveled with Daniels to get money out of a bank, giving him $800 and $1,200.
Evers said bank surveillance cameras were key to identifying the suspect.
Daniels has a lengthy arrest record, dating back to 2001. He has been charged with such crimes as theft, unauthorized use of an automobile, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, reckless endangerment and false imprisonment, as well as drug and weapons charges and numerous others.
Most recently, Daniels was charged with stalking, harassment and terroristic threats, for which a bench warrant was issued Sept. 11.
Evers noted that Daniels has been arrested several times in the past for impersonating an officer. According to court records, Daniels was arrested three times on that charge in 2004; in two of the cases, that charge and several others he faced at the time were dismissed, and he was found not guilty in the third case.
Police have been dispatched to Daniels’ home but had not yet located him as of Wednesday. Recent court documents list Daniels as living in the 19131 ZIP code, which covers West Philadelphia.
Evers said Daniels should be considered dangerous and urged community members to immediately contact police if they know anything about his whereabouts or if they have been a victim of the scam.
Anyone with information about Daniels should call 911 and can also contact East Detectives at (215) 686-3243.