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garyoak99

Oops: Impostor scams Louisiana officials

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A man who pulled a hoax on Louisiana officials and 1,000 contractors by presenting himself as a federal housing official said Monday he intended to focus attention on a lack of affordable housing.

 

"We basically go around impersonating bad institutes or institutes doing very bad things," said the man, who identified himself as Andy Bichlbaum, a 42-year-old former college teacher of video and media arts who lives in New York and Paris.

 

"That would be HUD. At this moment, they're doing some really bad things."

 

Masquerading as Rene Oswin, an official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Bichlbaum followed Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to the lectern Monday morning at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner.

 

In a speech to attendees of the Gulf Coast Reconstruction and Hurricane Preparedness Summit, he laid out grandiose plans for HUD to reverse course.

 

After the speaker read from a text he said had been prepared by his boss, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson, a HUD spokeswoman said the department knew nothing about the man.

 

Woah! I'm stunned this guy managed to fool so many people! I don't know if the hoax is necessarily bad though if it generates some publicity; it may be positive after all. What do you think?

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There's a relatively well-known group called The Yes Men ( http://www.theyesmen.org/ ) that used to do this pretty regularly. Being a media arts professor, I'm sure this guy knew about them, and the trouble they've gotten into. Still, this kind of thing is amusing, and it has a point.

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