Adoption fraud scam closure

A few weeks ago I was telling some co-workers and interns about that crazy adoption fraud FBI case and realized that I never found out what happened after the last time I spoke to the detective in 2008. Naturally, I just had to find out what came of it.

Google to the rescue! Woman sentenced to 30 months in prison for adoption fraud scam.

My favourite line of this article is “Belinda Ramirez was Jennifer Silver,” DeGabrielle said. “Ramirez was arrested at the hotel when she accepted delivery of the envelope.”

I checked – I’m still me.

To be honest, the experience wasn’t something that damaged me deeply – it was mostly surreal and strange rather than intrusive and terrifying. I learned that one shouldn’t post ones ultrasound pictures publicly on the internet lest they risk having someone steal their identity with them… I guess… but I’m not really convinced that this is a common occurrence.

At the very least, I’ve printed out the story to add to the original one about the case from back in 2008, and one day when Lyra is old enough it will be a weird and interesting tale to tell her.

Exciting times at Brazza Coffee & Gelato

Adam’s mother is visiting us. I picked her up today at the airport, and we went to grab a late lunch at Brazza, the coffee shop near my apartment. We were just thinking about packing up to leave (or possibly get Gelato) and I was walking around the shop with Lyra. She enjoys walking.

I was looking out the window when I noticed a car about to pull out running in to the parked car behind it. As I watched, the driver realized that she had hit the car behind her and pulled forward quickly. Unfortunately, she then hit the car in front of her. She switched back into reverse quickly, and ran into the car behind her again. Then things got weird.

The driver switched back into drive and basically put her foot to the floor. She accelerated fast enough that her car ran into the little convertible in front of her a second time, this time hard enough to push it forward and out of her way. The convertible smashed into the car parked in front of it, and then rolled back into its own parking space as the car that was causing all the commotion was no longer in its way.

Post-accident outside BrazzaIt wasn’t in the way because she had driven up on the the sidewalk, still gunning the engine, and smashed into the patio at the Yaas Bazaar. I can’t really say how long she was there, wedged into the patio, but the entire time she was still pushing her foot to the floor on the gas pedal. A cloud of smoke and the smell of burning rubber was intense, and I started to worry that she would back up again and smash through the window of Brazza. I picked Lyra up and went towards the back of the shop, which was starting to fill up with smoke.

Someone got worried that the car was going to explode and told everyone to go out the back door, so we did, (but seriously, cars don’t explode except in the movies, unless something happens to light the gas tank on fire.)

Once the car had stopped and the engine was off, I went back through to the front of the store to see the aftermath. And boy howdy was it something else. She managed to take out three cars besides her own, plus a bike rack. If Kate (coffee shop staffer) had been working, her bike would have been wrecked, since the rack was wedged between the car and the Yaas Bazaar patio.

Fortunately there was no one sitting on the patio itself. The people sitting outside Brazza narrowly avoided getting hit, and it was also fortunate that no one was walking on that section of sidewalk at that moment. As it turned out, no one was hurt, although the driver was definitely in shock.

If we had decided to leave a minute earlier, we could have been on the sidewalk when it happened. Crazy to think of.

Since I saw the whole thing from inside Brazza, I went up to the police officer and wrote up a witness report. I also pulled out the point & shoot digital camera that I had on me at the time and snapped a few pictures.

It certainly made for an exciting afternoon. I wish I had my real camera with me rather than the point and shoot, but what can you do? Carrying the baby bag around means I don’t get the carry the big camera as much anymore. But at least I got something.

Post-accident outside Brazza

Update: Adoption Fraud Scam

I called Detective Hudson back a few minutes ago – he gave me an update and asked for some information. I was quite happy to oblige, really. Apparently this woman who was defrauding couples has actually done this before. In this case, she was actually saying her name was Jennifer Silver (since I guess I didn’t crop that out on the photos online – oops.)

At any rate, he asked if I would be willing to be listed as a ‘victim’ in the case – which is helpful for them in building the case and proving that the woman is not, in fact, me. The victimization is basically one of stealing my identity. I asked what would be involved for me, and he said that I may have to fly down to Texas to testify in the trial, which apparently wouldn’t happen for at least a year. Federal court, he tells me, moves very slowly.

I said he could list me as a victim in the case (I like to be helpful, after all, and I’m all about justice and such.) An FBI agent actually takes over from here, but Hudson said if I had any more questions I was welcome to call and ask him. He really was quite nice.

A trip to texas may be in my future next year. He assured me that they would pay for the flight. Life can be such an adventure!

Welcome to my life: It is nothing if not interesting…

I have a very strange and surreal tale to share with you. The weirdest part is that it’s all true.

There were a bunch of messages on my home phone yesterday from the manager at North Shore X-ray, where I go to get ultrasounds done. She assured me in the message that there was nothing wrong with the baby, but it was very, very important that I phone her back as soon as I could. She even gave me her cell number to make sure I got in touch with her, and at one point called after Adam had arrived at home and made him promise that I would call (she wouldn’t tell him what was up either.)

Wondering what was going on, I phoned her as soon as I got in the door.

She told me that she had received a call from a Sheriff’s office in Placer County, California, and had confirmed with the RCMP that it was a legitimate call. They had just arrested someone in Alice, Texas, on several counts of fraud. Apparently a woman had been contacting adoption agencies, saying she was pregnant and wanted to give up her child for adoption. She sent them a bunch of paperwork and the adoption places put her in contact with a few hopeful people who wished to adopt. Here’s an excerpt from the Press Release:

The suspect asked for monetary expenses to be covered and the victims forwarded these funds to her. Victims in Placer County flew to San Antonio to be present for the birth of the child only to find that they had been defrauded. Another victim was due to fly to San Antonio on May 21st but they were contacted by The Placer County Sheriff’s Department and advised of the scheme.

Placer County Detectives and the FBI arranged for what the suspect thought would be a delivering of the birthing expense money. When the suspect arrived to pick up the money she was taken into custody.

So here’s where it gets weird.

They started investigating the documents and paperwork she had sent to the hopeful future adoptive parents, and traced an ultrasound picture back to the North Shore X-Ray clinic. They called the clinic and spoke to the manager there, who looked up the file and found out it was the Ultra Magnus ultrasound. I’m going to have to assume the woman in Texas got them off Flickr, since they’re not exactly hidden or anything. She couldn’t give out my contact information (with good reason; privacy laws forbid such things) but took his number and said she would contact me and have me call them if I wanted to.

Fast forward to this morning. I’m sitting here with a California number in hand for a detective Jim Hudson. I just called him a few minutes ago; it was a very T.V. moment, because he answered the phone by just saying “Hudson.” For some reason I thought I was going to get a switchboard or receptionist or something, so it threw me off for a second. I told him where I was calling from and he sounded pleased to hear from me, but told me that he was just in the middle of something else right now and could he call me back in a few minutes?

So now I’m just waiting for him to call me back.

Just. Plain. Weird.

I’ll let you know what happens next… I’m keeping this friends-only until I know more, I think.

I know coffee’s a no-no…

… but today I couldn’t think straight. Considering I drink coffee type beverages maybe once every couple of weeks at most in my non-preggo state, the caffeine is a huge boost when I do have it. Considering I’ve been on decaf pretty much since finding out I was pregnant, today when I went for a white mocha it was highly effective in giving me the energy to get things done. The crash afterwards, however, left me feeling a bit dead in the water. I don’t plan to make it a habit, but I can’t be good ALL the time.

Fortunately I’m now home and relaxing. I’ll put dinner on shortly so that it’s ready when Adam gets here.

I’m also going to accept, tonight, that I actually like and want to watch American Idol. I’m giving in to this guilty pleasure. Luckily for me, it’s on one of the two channels I get with the antenna.

Adam’s looking for a new job, by the way. If anyone has suggestions or recommendations, please pass them along to me. It would be very helpful if he found a new job in the next couple of months. Thanks!

A ghost in the office?

We were sitting here, minding our own business, Adam playing his game and me working on a website, when we suddenly heard a loud ‘crack,’ akin to the sound of a light bulb exploding. We stopped everything we were doing and looked around. It sounded to me like it came from Adam’s desk, but we couldn’t find anything. There are no broken light bulbs. There is no sign of anything being wrong at all, in fact, and we have no idea what caused the sound. It’s a little bit creepy.

I’ve finally started some work on my website redesign (yes, I do this once in a while. The last one hasn’t been particularly effective for what I want, so it’s time to move on.) I’ve put it all together in a nice photoshop file, now I just have to work out how to translate all of that to HTML. That’ll be the challenging part. I’ll tackle it tomorrow perhaps, after I’m done running errands. Hooray for dreamweaver.

Adam’s playing black & white now. I will have to get back to that when he’s at work tomorrow night. It doesn’t run on my computer (what with my computer being about 7 years old or something) so we have to switch off playing. It’s interesting watching our different playing styles – I’m predominantly good, winning over towns by making my town so fantastic everyone wants to live there. He’s predominantly evil, creating armies and sending them in to take over towns by force. It makes for a bit of a different game.

They tell me it’s all in my head…

but if that’s true, then why is it that when I think I’m just drinking normal fruit juice and it turns out to be that SoBe Energy Drink stuff, I’m wired before I even realize that that’s what I’m drinking? And I mean wired – hands shaking like I get on coffee, tendency to lose focus on what I’m doing, and a tendency to type faster than normal and make more mistakes. (trust me, if I didn’t have a backspace key, this would be a mess.) I dunno… I think that there really is something to that all-natural uppers concept.

Still contemplating that other possible job thing. *sigh* I just don’t know if I can handle a different kind of boredom…

Maybe this is a secret, although a few people know about it…

I love to destroy things. I love to watch a building blow up, I love breaking things that make a lot of noise when they break (assuming there is no emotional value to those things) and I love throwing things against walls. I have torn up phone books (toronto phone book is 3 inches thick) with my hands, surrounding myself with shreds of paper (that’s a very nice feeling, when you’re tearing up something like that…) I play violent computer games like CounterStrike where you get to blow things up… and sometimes I get myself killed in the game because I want to see the explosion and I’m standing too close.

Anyhow… I’m usually this mild, non-angry type of person… but I secretly love to destroy things.