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Arrest for fraud in USF area made

A man reported to police for bilking two men of more than $1,200 was arrested Sept. 17 by sheriff’s deputies.

John Takacs, 25, is charged with two counts of grand theft, one count of uttering a forged instrument and two counts of fraudulent personal information.

The man, who victims said posed as a youth pastor and veterinary technician, stole checks and cash from Justin Levitt, 24, a former correspondent for the Oracle.

Police arrested Takacs at Wachovia Bank on 8125 W. Hillsborough Ave. when he tried to pass a forged check. The check was stolen from Justin Levitt several days after Takacs moved into to his house, according to information from Levitt and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office.

Takacs is not up for bail because of an outstanding warrant in Tallahassee, said Debbie Carter, spokeswoman for Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Four of the six counts stem from an arrest there.

Carter declined to say if Takacs is a suspect in other cases because investigations are ongoing.

Levitt, who graduated from the University of Florida, said Takacs moved into the house he was renting Sept. 8. Levitt said the owner of the house was desperate to fill the room and allowed Levitt to accept Takacs’ temporary check.

He said Takacs left after they had a tense confrontation over a missing cell phone the morning of Sept. 14. He said Takacs repeatedly dodged phone calls from the owner, who wanted his personal information in order to perform a background check.

A USF student claimed the suspect played the same role to him more than two weeks before his arrest.

Christopher Chow, a USF computer engineering major, was leaving his Temple Terrace home Aug. 31 when Takacs called him, inquiring about a vacant room in the house the landlord had advertised on

Takacs said he needed a place to stay and was willing to come over immediately.

“He literally said he wanted to write me a check,” Chow said, a comment he said made him


Chow later asked Takacs why he was so eager to move in


Takacs said he had just come from Texas and had furniture he wanted to move into a place. He said he was tired of staying in hotel rooms.

Takacs arrived at Chow’s house around 6:30 p.m. Chow let

him in.

“He seemed normal. I gave him the ultra-quick tour of the house,” Chow said.

Eventually, Chow would ask Takacs to leave, reminding him that he was about leave to go out to dinner. But Takacs wanted to stay in the house anyway, Chow said.

He explained to Takacs that there is an application process, and offered him a form with instructions on its delivery. Takacs insisted on staying, according to Chow, and said he would call the landlord

that instant.

Chow ensured his house was secure when he left. He called his roommate to warn her about Takacs, who was still outside Chow’s house when he drove away, he said.

An hour later, Chow received a voice mail from his roommate. She said Takacs wasn’t at the house, but she couldn’t find her laptop. There were no visible signs of burglary, Chow said, and they weren’t sure Takacs broke in.

But less than 10 days later, Chow learned of a $1,200 withdrawal from his checking account that he didn’t authorize. Chow accused Takacs of stealing blank checks and forging his signature.

Takacs was being held at Falkenburg Road Jail as of

Sept. 24.