News and Press Releases

Defendant Legally Changed His Name Thirteen Times in Ten Years

February 13, 2009

CURTIS L. CRAFT, 54, of Tacoma, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to seven years in prison, five years of supervised release, and $220,000 in restitution for Bank Fraud. CRAFT was indicted and arrested in June 2008, and entered a guilty plea September 30, 2008. According to records filed in the case, CRAFT repeatedly legally changed his name so he could open bank accounts, inflate their value with bad checks, and withdraw cash before the banks learned the checks would not clear. U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton imposed the sentence.

The investigation revealed that CRAFT exploited the legal name change system in Pierce County and King County, Washington, to perpetuate frauds on banks and retailers. CRAFT would open bank accounts in one name, using a social security number that did not belong to him. He would deposit small amounts of cash to open the account, then would inflate the balance by depositing NSF checks from other closed accounts. CRAFT would withdraw cash or write more checks to retailers before the bank determined that the account was overdrawn. CRAFT would then legally change his name, obtain ID, and begin the process again under the new name. In this way he opened more than 40 bank accounts and defrauded Bank of America, U.S. Bank, Key Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, Columbia State Bank, and Washington Mutual Bank. CRAFT wrote NSF checks to more than 100 merchants totaling more than $212,000. CRAFT changed his name thirteen times over a ten year period.

In 2004, CRAFT was arrested at the Puyallup Home Depot store and sentenced to two years in prison for forgery. In 2008, he was arrested once again on the federal charges for the ongoing bank fraud scheme. In asking for a significant sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Arlen Storm noted in his sentencing memo that CRAFT’s “criminal history is extensive and that he carried out the scheme for which he is before the Court for far too long.”

The case was investigate by the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG), the King County Sheriff’s Office, University Place Police Department with the cooperation of the Pierce County Prosecutors Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Arlen Storm as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Working Group on Identity Theft.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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