The concept of the doppelganger (a German word meaning “double goer”) is based on the idea that there is another person out there who is an exact physical double of ourselves. It’s easy to dismiss this notion as fantasy, but what if your (sorta) doppelganger was using the legal system to try and steal a building you owned?
“I’m the good Ralph Baker, and he’s the evil Ralph Baker,” said 46-year-old Ralph Baker of the 63-year-old Ralph Baker who has made continual efforts since 2010 to take ownership of his building. “I don’t like the guy, but I marvel at how ingenious he is.”
What the 63-year-old Baker lacks in terms of similar physical appearance, he makes up with cunning and apparently, charm.
While doing time at Rikers Island on an unrelated trespassing charge, the elder Ralph Baker convinced a bail bondsman that he owned the South Elliot Place apartment building and the bondsman accepted the value as collateral for the required bond amount. Of course, he doesn't own the building, 46-year-old Ralph Baker does.
“He’s very crafty,” said bail bondsman Ira Judelson “I truly believe that he thinks he owns that building. That’s the scary part.”
Though legally blind, the older, more nefarious Ralph Baker works as a street photographer at busy tourist destinations like Times Square, charging $20 a pop for photos next to the iconic scenery.
“I ask them to . . . smile. Then I press the button. Then I collect the twenty,” he said.
Fortunately for the younger Ralph Baker, the legal system is a little more discerning.