Who is Montaous Walton?
It started off simply enough. OnMilwaukee.com received an innocuous email from Montaous Walton, asking us to do a feature on his feel-good story about making it out of Milwaukee and signing with the Toronto Blue Jays organization.
A perfunctory Google search revealed a real buzz about the 23-year-old undrafted free agent, a second base prospect who reportedly posted a world class 6.3-second, 60-yard dash.
An OnMilwaukee.com investigation has revealed that someone named Montaous Walton does, indeed, exist. But that person has proven to be nothing more a name on a phone record, a voice on the other end of the line.
Montaous Walton, the baseball player, is fictional.
Over the last five years, Walton has used the internet and his charm to create a fake persona that helped convince legitimate media outlets to report on his success, and then used it all to convince sports management firms to advance him plane tickets and cell phone payments – a contrivance that worked on at least two agencies.
During its investigation, OnMilwaukee.com obtained what Walton sent to several agencies as his contract from the Blue Jays, in which he spelled the name of the team incorrectly, among other key errors. That contract has sparked a Major League Baseball investigation into the matter.
"We're looking to prosecute," said Dan Mullin, Major League Baseball Department of Investigations Senior Vice President. "That's the ultimate goal."
What were the reasons behind it all? What was the end game?
Only the real Montaous Walton knows.
"hello my name is Montaous Walton a top college player from WI, i am looking for some place to compete after i am finish with my college career, i am an outfielder, with a career high 31 stolen bases, 17 RBi's with a consistent batting average of .323, i also rank 2nd in the stolen base category, i can be reached at Waltonmd18@uww.edu thank you."
Shortly after Walton introduced himself to the world with that seemingly innocuous post, he turned his attention to the media. A month later a Wisconsin recruiting web site trumpeted his transfer from Eastern Michigan University to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
In the story, Walton spoke of a collegiate career that did not exist. According to the Eastern Michigan athletic department, they've "been down this road before" with media members and agents as they confirmed he never participated in athletics at the university.
The university confirmed Walton registered for classes at one point in 2006.
The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater confirmed Walton enrolled at the college in 2007, but never played. In an April 27 interview with OnMilwaukee.com, Walton said he did not play at UWW for eligibility reasons.
Walton drifted out of sight after the Rivals story was published in 2007 but resurfaced 22 months later to put a full court press on Milwaukee's media.
He upped the ante, too, moving from college star to professional baseball prospect.
In that nearly two-year hiatus from the public, message boards and comment sections began hailing Walton as a Minnesota Twins signee out of the academy.
According to an editorial in the Milwaukee Courier in June 2010, the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) Times published a story on Walton in September 2009, followed by The Community Journal in November of that year.
No digital history can be found of the MATC Times story, but the college confirmed the paper did profile him and that Walton was enrolled for the 2005 spring semester. Walton has never said he played for MATC, and the college confirmed he did not.
In February 2010, he was profiled in the Courier by Frederick Dakarai.
"There were a couple of other stories on him online, so we had no reason to think something was funny," said Courier editor Lynda Jones.
He became more widely known throughout the city in March 2010, when he appeared in a brief segment on WTMJ Channel 4.
"People just like to hear a rags-to-riches kind of story, this inner city African-American man out of Milwaukee making it into something," Jones said of how this story exploded two years ago. "There are plenty of kids who are doing some really successful things and I think people get so excited when you hear that."
It was at this point Walton began attempting to cash in on his now legitimized Internet persona, cold-contacting a sports management agency looking for representation. For background, he suggested the agent Google him.
At least one agency Walton contacted in 2010 determined through Eastern Michigan and the Twins that his claims were false, and did not sign him or advance him money.
In June 2010, Jones wrote a scathing retraction to her paper's feature from February, concluding her piece by saying "This type of story also demonstrates just how an individual can use the internet and its social programs to create and perpetrate a fraud."
Despite the story, Walton convinced WUWM 89.7 FM Milwaukee Public Radio to air an interview promoting his signing with the Twins in August, something the station didn't know was fraudulent until October.
Walton's deception was once again chronicled, this time on Milwaukee Magazine's Web site on Oct. 5, 2010.
Walton the baseball player re-invented himself over the last 19 months, as the revealing news stories were quickly relegated to search engine purgatory, steamrolled by the downhill momentum of message board posts and story comments about Walton's signing with the Blue Jays in early 2011.
Walton admitted as much.
"I think if you dig you'll see that," he said of those stories in a phone interview with OnMilwaukee.com on April 30. "You'll find something like that. If you Google you really can't see it, but if you Google and you dig, you know what I mean but like I said, that's the past, man."
Walton then directly addressed Jones' editorial in that same interview.
"Like I said, that was two, two and a half years ago," he said. "I think a lot of things ... some things were true and some things were not. I will say that. Was I being scouted at the time and then not signed? That's true. I wasn't signed but I was being looked at. But, as far as all the other stuff that comes along with it, like fraud and fake and all this, like I said, that's not true."
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Jim, your work at OMC has been very good, and this well-researched article about such a strange story is about as good as it gets. Fascinating and well told.
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