By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
"He just kept stringing me along," Soulia recalls. "When I'd say, I've had enough of this shit,' he'd refer me to some agent in New York who'd tell me to hang on a little while longer."
Soulia finally decided to investigate the supermodel on his own. Using his security credentials, he discovered that the Colorado College cheerleading uniform in Storme's closet was fake: Not only was Storme never a student there, but the college has no such squad. He also learned from Betsy Acree, then the coordinator for the Colorado Spirit cheerleaders, that Storme had attended Harrison High School. So Soulia brought a fashion snapshot to school officials, who puzzled over it before finally declaring, "That's Charles Daugherty! Our first male cheerleader!"
"I just sat down and said, 'I can't believe he suckered me like this,'" Soulia recalls. Humiliated, he decided to blow Storme's cover. He told Acree, the parents of Storme's underage models and the police about the deception.
The bodyguard then collected receipts, statements and phone numbers from others who'd been duped. Among them was a nineteen-year-old man who said Storme had stolen $500 in household goods and charged $900 on his credit card. But the evidence wasn't strong enough to build a court case, so Soulia decided to settle the score himself.
He confronted Storme over the phone and asked about all the people who seemed to have confirmed his story. "They were me," Storme told Soulia, and proceeded to switch his voice between a brawny guy and a really sexy woman. "Wow," Soulia told him. "You should be in showbiz."
"I was pissed," the former bodyguard says now. "For a long time, I just sat around figuring out ways to mess him up. But we had our fun. I can't tell you how, but we did."
Soulia also kept his file on Storme, thinking it would come in handy when the cross-dresser finally took the fall. "I always thought that he'd get his sooner or later," the former bodyguard says. "It was only a matter of time."
Busted: Floating Heads
AND RUBBER CHECKS
Detective John Amundson has been a cop with the Colorado Springs Police Department for sixteen years, dealing with everything from "stubbed toes to homicides." But nothing quite compares to the complaints about Storme Shannon Aerison (Charles James Daugherty's legal name as of 1992), which first landed on Amundson's desk in the fraud-and-forgery unit five years ago.
"See this?" he says, unrolling the poster of Storm straddling Castle's motorcycle. "Does this look like a woman to you?"
Ferguson and Castle were lucky, the detective says. The photographer only lost a lot of time and $1,500 (turns out he was the one who paid for the male model's visit, with a false promise of reimbursement from Storme); the motorcycle owner only lost face. Amundson has fielded complaints about Storme from hotel managers, calendar companies and fashion crews around the world, many of which claim to have been bilked out of tens of thousands of dollars.
One hotel manager in Puerto Rico told Amundson that Storme and his entourage charged $25,000 on his American Express card in 1995. During preparations for yet another alleged calendar shoot, Storme somehow got the manager's account information from a film receipt and launched a shopping spree that included eight airline tickets to Hawaii, limousine service and parties that raged all night. But since the manager had never met Storme face-to-face and the items were purchased over the phone, he could never prove who'd ordered what, so he never filed charges.
Neither did many of Storme's other alleged victims, Amundson says. Most are too embarrassed to have the scams revealed in open court; a few had received sexual favors from the alleged supermodel. Some unknowingly received gifts bought by their own credit cards, which complicates prosecution; others live overseas and cannot travel to Colorado Springs to present their evidence.
Even under normal circumstances, credit-card fraud cases can be tough to prove. Witnesses are hard to come by, solid evidence is scarce, and if the scams cross not just police jurisdictions but state and international borders, investigations become mired in complications. Throw in the red tape binding credit-card companies and credit bureaus, which cannot share information with one another, and you have a con man's carnival.
"A lot of the time, all these companies need is the name on the card, the number, the expiration date and the address where to send the stuff," Amundson says. "If you don't know who actually used the card, who do you prosecute?"
And so, the detective says, although Storme has been investigated by the Secret Service, Interpol and the Colorado Springs PD, he has never been charged with any major crime related to his modeling career. As a result, Storme continues on.
In the past, Amundson says, Storme found his marks through word of mouth, mutual contacts and newspaper ads. But now he's gone global, promoting himself on the Internet at StormeIreland.com. On that Web site, the supposed supermodel offers a dazzling -- though dubious -- array of fashion photos, magazine covers, swimsuit galleries, T-shirts, calendars and posters with titles such as "Ghost Logic" and "Italian Ice."