Check-Kiting Guidance

You can change your name a lot easier than your face.

For a guy who helped run a complicated scheme that, all told, defrauded more than 70 victims of an estimated $100,000, Leon Anderson managed to get caught in a particularly dumb way. On May 29, 2008, Anderson and co-conspirator Curtis Craft pulled into a Tacoma gas station. Problem was, Craft had been a frequent visitor to this particular station, and had written a multitude of checks as payment, all of them bad. The attendants recognized Craft as the guy who had been scamming free gas, and called the cops. After the pair were arrested, police found multiple documents linking them to a scheme to fleece area banks by wildly abusing the state's name-change system. According to court records, between 2000 and 2008 Anderson changed his name 12 times. Anderson would obtain a driver's license under a false name, then deposit checks drawn from an account under a separate false name in order to inflate the balance. Before the checks could clear, he'd withdraw the cash, rinse, then repeat. Now he'll join Craft, who last year was sentenced to seven years in prison, as a ward of the federal government. On Friday, Anderson was sentenced in federal court to 27 months, plus nearly $100,000 in restitution. Given his record, those payments will likely take the form of cash.

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