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Jose Luis Alvarez

Randi’s Partner Arrested for Identity Theft

Skeptic James ‘The Amazing’ Randi is renowned as a scourge of paranormal frauds and hoaxers, but it just may be that identity theft isn’t one of his areas of expertise. Federal authorities have arrested his partner of more than two decades, ‘Jose Luis Alvarez’, saying that his identity was stolen from a man in New York some 24 years ago:

Alvarez, who purportedly is 43, was charged with stealing a New York man’s date of birth and Social Security number in 1987 to obtain a U.S. passport. A grand jury indicted Alvarez on Wednesday on a charge of passport fraud, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and aggravated identity theft, which automatically tacks two years in prison onto any other sentence.

More immediately pressing for Randi, and Alvarez’s attorneys, is securing Alvarez’ release from the Broward Main Jail. Prosecutors have said they will seek to have him held without bond. A courtroom showdown is set for next Wednesday, when a judge will consider arguments for and against bail.

For Alvarez to be released, he may have to reveal his true identity, which would be tantamount to an admission of guilt.

“He’s in an interesting box,” said Jeffrey Neiman, a former federal prosecutor who is now a defense attorney based in Fort Lauderdale. “I can’t imagine a magistrate judge giving a bond without knowing who it is they are giving the bond to.”

Interestingly, when asked by a reporter if he knew about the alleged identity theft, Randi responded by saying his lawyers had told him “not to comment on our knowledge or lack of knowledge.”

The irony in this arrest (beyond the alleged fraudster being the Amazing Randi’s partner) is that Alvarez first came to public notice when he pretended to be a channeler of the spirit ‘Carlos’ in Randi’s much-vaunted (not least, by Randi himself) ‘sting’ for Australian television in 1988. Here’s Randi’s YouTube summation of the hoax (actual footage starts around 5:40):

So far there has been no official comment from the James Randi Educational Foundation about Alvarez’s arrest.

(h/t @GrailSeeker)

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  1. Arrogant hoaxters
    Hahaha The Arrogant Randi deserves nothing but pain in his life. Try finishing high-school next time Jimmy and isn’t it time for Murder She Wrote? har har. Take Penn Jillette with you while you’re at it—he thinks people give a crap about his opinions.

  2. Mysterious Ways
    Even a fiction writer can’t compare to what God has up his proverbial sleeves. . . This is yet another sign that the time for the Comeuppance of Evil is at hand.

  3. 12 yrs ago I applied for the $1M Challenge and am still waiting
    Good work and great article on Randi.

    I’m a homeopath and I applied for Randi’s challenge to prove homeopathy 12 years ago. Randi offered it to me in writing in January 1999. He said the money was mine if I could come up with a test to identify homeoapthic remedies from their controls in a double blind trial.

    Well, I filled out the application, had it notarized and then sent it in . . and waited . . and waited . . and all I could get out of him were arguments, insults, put downs, theories, complaints, but never a test or trial date.

    Finally, after people started pressuring him, he tried to get out of it by saying that he was going to test Jacques Benveniste and Brian Josephson’s basophil degranulation test instead. But Syd Baumel of the Aquarian intervened on my behalf and wrote to Prof Josephson, who in turn sent Randi back to me. Randi then said I was crazy, had damaged his organiation by calling Goldman Sachs (to see if the money really existed or not . . they wouldn’t tell me) and wouldn’t negotiate a “protocol” until I provided him with a notarized testimony from a psychologist.

    So on November 2, 1999 I went to Tuscon, AZ and met with professor of psychiatry and clinical psychologist Gary Schwartz, who in turn, after interviewing me, met with Randi in Ft. Lauderdale. Of course Randi was just as obstinate with Schwartz as he was with me.

    Schwartz returned to Tuscon and produced the Gas Discharge Visualization Test for high dilutes (homeopathic remedies) in 2003, proving my claim.

    BTW, it used to be that Randi offered the prize money in negotiable bonds. What the hell are those? Bearer bonds? Are the coupons still attached if they are?


    It seems like there always has to be something fishy about it for Randi to be happy. And now this thing with “Alvarez.” I don’t think Randi can sleep at night unless he’s fooled someone, ripped somebody off, staged a hoax, deceived the world or got away with the Big Lie du Jour. I bet Randi facilitated the identifty theft with Carlos, Jose or whatever his name is or was. I think Randi found “Alvarez’ washed up on the beach in an inner tube.

    He’s probably Cuban.

    But listen, the point is I could use a little support on the challenge. Every time I call JREf they slam the phone down. Once I did manage to get Randi on the phone and all he could do was spew a string of expletives at me.

    I have a provable claim. Randi’s challenge to homeoapthy is quite do-able. If Randi, Penn Jillette, Phil Plait and all these other comedians are so sure that homeopathy’s a hoax, then why do they keep running away from a test of it by a known applicant?

    Time to put up or shut up.

    Bring it on, skeptomaniacs!

    EZ 2 do.

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