A Philadelphia man has been arrested in a complex scheme that netted him close to a half-million dollars by posing as a lawyer and setting up fraudulent businesses to steal goods and services in check-kiting schemes, the District Attorney's Office said yesterday.

Mac Kenneth K. Ortiz Sr., 36, of the 4800 block of Levick Street in Tacony and the 4100 block of Markland Street in Juniata Park, bilked an estimated 38 victims, the office said.

He was accused of charges ranging from deception, attempted theft by deception, receiving stolen property, criminal use of a communications facility, insurance fraud, forgery, bad checks, tampering with records, false swearing, unauthorized practice of law, and identity theft.

In one case, the D.A.'s Office said, a victim reported that he had paid Ortiz, who identified himself as a lawyer, $5,000 to handle a legal dispute. After nine months, the client's dispute with his tenant remained unresolved and he was unable to contact Ortiz.

The matter was eventually turned over to the District Attorney's Insurance Fraud Unit, which said it found that from 1999 to 2005, Ortiz had registered six corporations in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including three law firms and one nonprofit medical corporation posing as a government agency.

In one case, Ortiz, posing as a licensed lawyer, accepted more than $43,000 in retainer fees and insurance payments on behalf of an unsuspecting client who needed help resolving an insurance claim stemming from damage to his small grocery store, the D.A.'s Office said.

According to investigators, at one point Ortiz even operated a fake bank known as Republican Financial Bank through which he generated phony bank deposits that were subsequently deposited into legitimate bank accounts or used as a banking reference to establish credit in the name of one of his fraudulent business identities.