Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Is Something Fishy in Salmon, Idaho?

Is Kristina Ross a lesbian who was trapped in a man's body? Consider this article, that first describes Ross as a woman. Laura Zuckerman reports for Reuters.

An Idaho judge has set bond at $100,000 for a Boise woman police say posed as a physician and duped at least two other women into having their breasts examined by her at Boise-area nightclubs.
I have all of my medical work done at nightclubs.

Kristina Ross, 37, remains in Ada County Jail in Boise on two felony counts of practicing medicine without a license.
My libertarian side thinks people should be allowed to genuinely help others without a license, as long as they don't claim to have a license. Potential patients can always ask for credentials, and private organizations can test and recommend doctors. But the law is the law. Is this really practicing medicine without a license, or is it assault, or is it a TSA screening?

Police say Ross introduced herself to victims -- one at a downtown Boise bar and the other at a nightclub in a Boise suburb -- as a plastic surgeon named Berlyn Aussieahshowna, a name that turned out to be bogus.
Ya think?

The two women told Boise officers they believed Ross was a physician because of her apparent medical knowledge, and they agreed to undergo what they thought were breast exams, which happened at the bars.
This reminds me someone my father told me about, who would go shoot pool with a buddy and would tell his buddy about his day at work – making it sound like he was a gynecologist. Only he wasn't any sort of doctor at all. But that wouldn't stop women from approaching him and asking him questions about their body - which was, of course, his intent.

As part of her ruse, Ross gave the women the telephone number of a real licensed plastic surgeon in Boise, the state capital, authorities said.

Staff at that medical office became alarmed at the number of calls they received from women in recent weeks attempting to confirm appointments or surgeries with a Berlyn Aussieahshowna, according to charging documents.
"Dr. Assieahshowna isn't here, but you can see Mike Hunt or Richard Peters Johnson." Sorry. Couldn't resist.

Medical workers on Tuesday alerted Boise police about the pattern, and they later arrested Ross.
If Ross had picked a different number, the ruse could have continued.

Now the story gets really interesting...

The suspect's gender is unclear. Idaho court records show that Ross was arrested for petty theft in the spring and that the arrest warrant was issued to a Kristoffer Jon Ross.

The Idaho Statesman website reported that Ross has a previous criminal record as a man but identifies herself as a woman and was booked into Ada County Jail as a female.
So that is why Ross knew so much and was so interested. Ross is apparently man by birth who now claims to be (identfies as) a woman (transgender).

It is so easy to get scammed - for money, too. David Lazarus, who covers consumer issues in the Los Angeles Times, recently had a warning about the "emergency scam" – which is one I'd heard about before. Read on.

It's called the "emergency scam" because its victims are typically asked to wire money to assist some friend or family member in trouble.
Sometimes the tactic is used in the wee hours of the morning, when someone is likely to be asleep. They hear the phone ring, they groggily answer, and someone's voice is whispering or garbled on the other end. This causes the target to start guessing out loud who is on the othe other end. "John? Mark?" The scammer, having just got some useful information from someone who isn't thinking clearly, then goes into a clearer, more authoritative voice. "This is John's attorney..." or "This is Officer Smith." They then go on to say that John is in trouble and needs some money wired (or even delivered in person) right away. The target doesn't even realize they are the ones who gave the scammer the name of someone they know.

A variation hijacks someone's social networking account or e-mail, and then says they need help. Hijacking an account like that can provide a scammer with all kinds of useful information to use on targets.

I received just such an e-mail the other day. It was from my 67-year-old stepmom, Judy, who had apparently run into trouble while on a trip to London.

The message said she "got mugged on my way to the hotel and my money, credit cards, phone and other valuable things were taken off me at gun point."

All she needed was $1,800 to pay her hotel bill and return home.

The e-mail, of course, was a sham, even though it had been sent from Judy's actual MSN account and included her actual Florida address and phone number.
Here are some tips:

First, try to verify the caller's or sender's identity by asking a personal question that a stranger wouldn't be able to answer.
Keep in mind that scammers can get all sorts of information before they make a call or e-mail, especially if they have control of someone’s e-mail account or social networking account.

Don't act rashly. Try to call the person back on a known number. If you can't reach him or her, try to connect with another family member, even if you've been told to keep things secret.

If you still can't confirm the authenticity of the call or e-mail, contact the police. They'll know if there's a scam going around in a particular area.

Most importantly, don't wire any money until you're certain the call for help is legit. If you haven't be able to confirm it's the real deal, it probably isn't.
A lot of people would be surprised just how much can be gleaned about them from what can be accessed online, and what people reveal about themselves in person. So many mentalists and claimed psychics use a technique called cold reading (see here and here) to obtain information from people, often without the person realizing or remembering that they provided that information. I have used such techniques for harmless purposes, such as obtaining the birthday (not year) of someone reluctant to give it so that I could bring that person a gift. I have also found that simply walking up to an acquaintance and asking, "Are the rumors true?" can yield all sorts of information.

Scammers also use assumptions about credibility and authority. For example, if a well-groomed man is dressed in a nice suit and is walking confidently, he can get into a lot of places he shouldn’t be. Even more so if he is carrying (what looks like) a walkie-talkie.

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