Knox County District Attorney General - Charme P. Allen

Check-Cashing Ring Dismantled

Posted: 04/16/2019

Prosecutors in DA Charme Allen’s White Collar Unit obtained convictions against the leader of a check-cashing ring who used homeless people to cash fraudulent checks.  Lee Otis Wilson, 36, was convicted of four counts of Identity Theft and one count of Identity Theft Trafficking.  Judge Scott Green sentenced Wilson to serve eight years in prison.

In a sentencing hearing, Assistant District Attorneys Sean Deitrick and Bill Bright explained to the Court that on December 29, 2017, Wilson was caught running what is known as a “Homeless Check-Cashing Scheme.”  This scheme typically centers around a ringleader who travels into town and steals mail from mailboxes looking for checks.  The ringleader then copies account information and signatures from the stolen checks and prints fraudulent checks.  The ringleader then recruits a homeless person to cash the fraudulent checks with the promise of receiving part of the proceeds from the scheme.  Knoxville Police Department Investigator Mike Harper caught Wilson when his accomplice tried to cash one of these checks at the Wal-Mart at University Commons.  A subsequent search of Wilson’s hotel room revealed a printer, check stock, nine additional forged checks, and a set of rubber stamps matching the signatures on the counterfeit checks.

“You can protect yourself and help prevent these crimes by closely monitoring your checkbook and mailing checks by placing them directly into a USPS mailbox,” said DA Charme Allen.  “Be aware of whether any checks have come up missing or stolen from your checkbook, and report unauthorized account transactions immediately.”

If you have any questions, please contact Sean McDermott at 865-215-2515 or  For more information about the District Attorney’s Office, visit our website at and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.



City County Building 400 Main Street
Suite 168
Knoxville, TN 37902