Online Extra: Political Notes: Email scammers use lesbian SF judge's identity
by Matthew S. Bajko
The email arrived in the early morning hours on Election Day with the subject line reading "Awful Trip ... Angela Bradstreet ."
It went on to state that Bradstreet had "tears" in her eyes because she and her family had supposedly been mugged at their hotel in London while on vacation. Their cash and credit cards stolen, though they still had passports, the family allegedly needed money to pay their hotel bill and were asking for assistance.
"Am freaked out at the moment!!" wrote the person behind the email, which was signed "Angela."
The electronic plea for help, which was sent directly to this reporter, is the latest version of a well known email scam where imposters of the named sender weave a tale of woe in hopes of convincing the recipient to send them money.
In this instance, the person whose identity the scammer's had chosen happens to be a sitting judge on the San Francisco Superior Court. Bradstreet, a well-known lesbian attorney, received an appointment to the local bench in 2010.
Her being across the pond is not that far-fetched, as Bradstreet was born in England and earned a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Bristol.
Bradstreet did not respond to the Bay Area Reporter 's request for comment last week about the email scam. Nor did the local court's spokeswoman.
According to an advisory posted online by the Federal Trade Commission, it is not unusual for the scammers behind such emails to impersonate government agencies or public officials.
"They play on our emotions or promise big payoffs to get us to act. And many use the names of government agencies like the FTC, trusted companies, or friends and family to get us to buy into their schemes," states the agency on its notice, which was posted in February 2011.
The B.A.R. did receive a response from the person claiming to be Bradstreet. After asking for a phone number to reach them, the scammer replied that they needed $1,490 to be wired to them via Western Union and supplied an address in London in which to send it to.
Asked for proof that the email wasn't a hoax, the person then added that their cell phone had been stolen in addition to their money and there was no way to reach them other than by email.
"Also, If I wasn't the one I won't ask you to wire money on my name, We both know that I will need some identification to receive the money and thank God I still have my passport saved with me as an ID," stated the grammatically challenged email from "Angela."
For information on how to file a complaint with the FTC about such emailed scams, visit http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt111.shtm.
Name change proposed for LGBT seniors panel
One month into its work, the newly formed LGBT Seniors Task Force is contemplating a name change.
Member Michael Costa has proposed that the group, tasked with providing San Francisco officials with a detailed plan for meeting the needs of LGBT elders, rebrand itself as the LGBT Aging Policy Task Force.
Costa, a self-employed health policy consultant, told the B.A.R. that he believes the current name for the task force is too vague.
"It is too opaque. It doesn't really say what we do," said Costa, one of the 15 people picked to serve on the panel.
He described his suggestion for switching the word "seniors" with "aging policy" as being a "clarification."
"It gives people a very clear idea of what the task force is about," said Costa.
It is unclear if a majority of his fellow task force members will agree with him when they meet Tuesday, November 13 for the panel's second official meeting.
"We will see. I have run the idea by a number of task force persons and haven't had any push back," said Costa.
Asked about the proposal last week, task force vice chair Jazzie Collins told the B.A.R. she saw no need for the title switch.
"I don't support that. It is not confusing anyone," Collins said of the current name.
UPDATE: At its meeting Tuesday the task force voted unanimously for the name change. "It is our first accomplishment, I guess," said Costa.
Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the Political Notes column will not return until Monday, December 3.
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Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.