Name change scam

Not all legal name change petitions are a scam. I think everyone who understands the facts of the Jerry Sandusky molestation case would agree that there is nothing wrong at all with Sandusky’s adopted son’s petition to change his name and that of his family. Not because his adopted father went to prison for some serious crimes, but that Sandusky committed some serious crimes against his adopted son. This situation is an example of one very good reason that we have name change laws on the books. I wish that victim the best and I hope he and his family can find some peace in anonymity.

Mr. Optimus PrimeJust to be clear, I also don’t think there’s a scam involved when someone finds out they were adopted and legally adds their birth parent’s name to their last name. That’s a nice gesture to bring another type of closure, although I’m not a fan of long hyphenated double last names. And of course there are the crazies and NBA players who routinely file name change petitions to “Bezaboop Starlight,” “Optimus Prime,” “God Shammgod,” and “World Peace.” The crazies are always my favorite and they hang around the public bulletin boards a lot where the name change petitions are posted for public viewing.


Name change kit ripoff
Don’t waste your money on these. Get the free local forms from your courthouse.

No, what I’m talking about is the name change scam.  It takes a little time but it’s not all that hard. First you download the name change petition you got off the website for your local circuit court. Sometimes they will give you a copy at the clerk’s window in the courthouse if you ask nicely. You can go with one of the packets you buy online or at an office supply store but why? Just get them for free. If you don’t have the money for the filing fee which is generally $100 to $300, download and fill out the fee waiver application too. These are really simple forms so don’t stress out about it. You’re going to have to post a paper copy of the petition at the courthouse so make a couple of copies of everything. Those copies should cost you maybe $2 at a print shop or FedEx Office.

OK, when that’s all done, take everything to your local courthouse and stand in line for a while at the filing clerk’s windows. They may have some weird rules for showing up at certain specific times to get the filing fee waivers signed by a Judge, so pay attention carefully to what the clerk tells you. If you follow all their steps and there wasn’t an objection by the local prosecutors or a Judge because you’re asking for a really weird or obscene name, you’re going to get an official copy of the name change order in the mail from the court clerk in a month or two.

This guy's name is now Captain Awesome and he can legally sign his name as  → ☺ ←. By court order, no less.
This guy’s name is now Captain Awesome and he can legally sign his name as → ☺ ←. By court order, no less.

Actually, lets talk about the name you have to pick to make this scam work. Don’t choose a unique name like the idiot Captain Awesome to the right. You’re doing this as a scam, not because you’re crazy or want to make a statement about how cool you are or something. Guys should pick a new name like ‘Thomas Smith,’ ‘George Jones’ or something equally bland and extremely common. Women should pick ‘Susan Wright’ or maybe ‘Karen Anderson’. You see, the scam only works when you do two or three sequential name changes in different states with very common names. It makes it very hard to trace back to your original name with your extensive criminal history and sex offender registration requirement. You might even get out of arrest warrants, although your fingerprints could trip you up if the local law enforcement puts the time and energy into trying to track down your booking photos, etc.

There are some other details, too. You might want to apply for a new drivers license in the second or third state but try to radically change your physical appearance for the picture. It is also a good idea to apply for a new social security number after each name change is granted. See how it works? You’re sliding under the radar by making it too difficult to connect your trail of common names and name change petitions with you. It takes some effort and that might be asking a little too much from some people, but if you’re already out of work because of your criminal past and have some big plans for your next caper you might just be able to get a clean head start.

-Samuel Owen

© Samuel Owen 2013. All rights reserved. Please read important notices and disclaimers by clicking here.



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