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Man Impersonates Oprah's Nephew, Obama's Former Aide

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on April 20, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In a real life Catch Me If You Can scheme, an impersonator claimed to be Oprah Winfrey's nephew to get perks and a job.

Oprah's Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) is suing alleged impersonator Justin Jackson and a co-conspirator in federal court. Also suing Jackson are Scott Garner, an OWN employee, and Reggie Love, former personal aide to President Barrack Obama.

The Lawsuit

The lawsuit alleges several instances of impersonation. It claims that Jackson Garner set up a meeting with a Coldwell Banker realtor to look at properties in Florida, pretending that the properties would be for Oprah. Jackson later claimed that he was Winfrey's nephew to get a job for himself and another woman at an Extended Stay America Hotel. OWN alleges that Jackson claimed association with Oprah to get items from Converse, Pandora, Tacori, Tory Burch, and even access to singer Trey Songz.

In 2010, Jackson also posed as former Obama aide Reggie Love to get Cheesecake Factory giftcards. He was arrested for fraud and impersonating a public officer, but skipped bail.

OWN, Garner, and Love are suing Jackson for invasion of privacy, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and civil conspiracy.

Invasion of Privacy

In fancy terms, invasion of privacy is "the unjustifiable intrusion into the personal life of another without consent." Invasion of privacy is actually an umbrella term for four different causes of action: appropriation on name or likeness, intrusion upon seclusion, false light, and public disclosure of private fact.

Appropriation of Name or Likeness

In this case, appropriation of name or likeness is probably the most appropriate cause of action. Appropriation of name or likeness claims usually involve a person using another person's identity without permission for a business or economic purpose. The elements of this claim are:

  • The defendant used the plaintiff's name, likeness, or identity,
  • For the defendant's benefit
  • Without the plaintiff's consent,
  • Causing the plaintiff injury.

Since this is a civil suit and not a criminal charge, Jackson may only have to pay damages if he loses the case. However, the lawsuit also alleges that there is a warrant for Jackson's arrest in Georgia, so he may face the inside of a jail cell after all.

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