Windham man accused of using fake traveler’s checks to buy $18,000 worth of merchandise

Posted Feb. 27, 2014, at 5:31 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 27, 2014, at 5:56 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — A Windham man accused of purchasing $18,000 worth of merchandise with fake traveler’s checks made his first appearance Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Keith A. Coleman, 48, allegedly used 180 counterfeit $100 American Express traveler’s checks between Dec. 17 and Jan. 10 at stores and restaurants from Biddeford to Augusta.

Coleman did not enter a plea because he has not yet been indicted by a federal grand jury.

He is charged with one count of passing counterfeit American Express traveler’s checks.

Coleman made purchases at Staples stores in Biddeford, North Windham and Augusta, Best Buy outlets in South Portland, Topsham, Auburn and Augusta and Rite Aid in Portland, South Portland and Westbrook, among others, according to the complaint.

He bought expensive electronics such as televisions, game consoles, headphones, computer tablets and extended warranties for some items. A few items he returned for refunds, the complaint said.

Other times, Coleman allegedly bought a few items at a drugstore and received more than $90 in cash as change. He also used the fake traveler’s checks to pay for meals at a Longhorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Denny’s, TGIFridays and Applebees in locations that could not be determined.

The complaint did not say whether Coleman made or purchased the fake traveler’s checks.

U.S. District Judge George Singal on Thursday ordered Coleman be temporarily detained at the Cumberland County Jail until a bail hearing is held March 5. He was arrested Jan. 15 and has been held at the Portland jail on a warrant out of Sagadahoc County since then, according to jail personnel.

Information about the Sagadahoc County charges was not available Thursday afternoon. Topsham is located in that county.

If convicted of the federal charge, Coleman faces 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. He also could be ordered to pay restitution. Information about what, if any items, were recovered was not included in documents filed in federal court.

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