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Press Release

Disbarred lawyer sentenced to 5 years in prison for wire fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Used identities of friend and family members to obtain credit cards and access to bank accounts

Seattle – A former lawyer, who was disbarred following a 2003 fraudulent check scheme, and a federal fraud conviction, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to five years in prison and three years of supervised release for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.  JOHN WILLIAM ALDERSON, 47, pleaded guilty in July 2019 following a three-year scheme to defraud a romantic partner and family members.  ALDERSON has a 2003 federal conviction for wire fraud and Social Security fraud, which resulted in a 41-month prison term.   At his sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones said, “You have not demonstrated any respect for the law.  You do this over and over and over.”

According to records filed in the case, in 2014 ALDERSON met his victim through an online dating website, and falsified much of the information he told the victim about his background.  ALDERSON lied about his age, his educational background, his family’s wealth and failed to disclose his prior federal conviction for fraud.   ALDERSON moved into his victim’s home in 2015 and gained access to the victim’s personally identifying information.  Using that information, ALDERSON opened the credit card accounts and pretended to be the victim to dispute charges on the credit cards.  One of the charges incurred on the cards was for ALDERSON to have plastic surgery at a Bellevue clinic.  Those charges traveled interstate, constituting wire fraud.  ALDERSON induced the victim to write him checks that were to be deposited in a joint investment account but instead were used by ALDERSON for his own expenses.  ALDERSON forged letters and emails from various attorneys representing that ALDERSON was to receive a large financial settlement.  Those representations were false.  ALDERSON also used the identity of relatives living in Enumclaw to open an additional credit card account resulting in more than $38,000 in fraud.  ALDERSON admits to a total fraud loss of more than $262,712.

Calling him a “financial predator,” prosecutors asked for a sentence at the high end of the guidelines range saying, “The fraud he admitted to in this case was elaborate, involving layer upon layer of deception…. Fraud is nothing new to Alderson. His conduct in this case is part of a pattern of fraud and criminality that stretches back over fifteen years.”

ALDERSON’s victims told the court that he is a “vindictive and unrepentant predator” who treated his crimes as “a thrilling game of fraud and deception,” and wielding his legal knowledge as a weapon to harm others.  One called him a “charming chameleon who wants to derail the lives of others.”

Judge Jones agreed that the harm in this case went beyond the financial impact noting “the wrecking-ball effect” of what ALDERSON did, “betraying trust, integrity, compassion and love, with greed, lies, fraud and deceit.”

Judge Jones ordered ALDERSON to pay $141,482 in restitution to his victims.

The case was investigated by the FBI.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Dion.


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated November 1, 2019

Financial Fraud
Identity Theft