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Posted: 3:38 p.m. Wednesday, April 24, 2013
A local man who claimed to be Michael Jackson's nephew is now facing criminal charges. Action 9 first exposed Gepetto Jackson two months ago after a dozen people said he was a fake celebrity who cheated them out of their life savings. The arrest has not stopped Jackson from contacting victims who may never get their money back. The suspect appeared in photo shoots as "Gepetto Jackson of the Jackson family" and in music videos, but his latest picture is a mug shot booked under his real name, Andre Vann. Vann has since been charged with grand theft. The victim in that case wants to remain anonymous. "Who did you think he was?" asked Action 9's Todd Ulrich. "I thought he was the son of Michael Jackson's brother," the victim said. The woman went to Kissimmee police after an Action 9 investigation uncovered 12 people who claimed Vann used his fake celebrity to con them. One woman said Vann promised her a job but first she had to buy $3,000 in office supplies. "He was supposed to write a contract, and I never received the contract," said the victim. Kissimmee police filed the grand theft charge but other victims can't understand why their cases went nowhere. Kristina Kienholz said Vann cheated her out of $70,000, and Brandy Bernt and her parents lost $140,000. "Just make it right and stop scamming people," said Bernt. As part of the arrest, Vann was ordered to stay off Facebook, where he first reached his victims. But Francisco Velazquez said "Gepetto" still contacts him after he took $4,000 as contract fees and promised Velazquez a career as a painter. "He's stealing money from people who really work hard," said Velazquez. Velazquez' parents borrowed the money to pay Vann and are now scrambling to pay bills. "We sold some of our furniture just to pay the rent," said Velazquez. By phone, Vann told Action 9 he gave some people partial refunds over contract disputes and didn't mislead anyone. Kissimmee police said if other victims come forward they will review their cases.
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