An American identity thief has fooled two Ivy League universities into allowing her to enrol for criminology classes.
Police said that Esther Elizabeth Reed, 28, managed to attend Columbia University as a graduate student studying criminology and psychology for two years.
Reed posed as Brooke Henson, who has been registered as 'missing' since 1999. Reed also enrolled at Harvard and California State University, Fullerton.
"Reed is an incredibly smart and sophisticated con woman," police investigator Jon Campbell told the New York Post.
"She is an excellent impostor to the point of being pathological. She did not run up a whole lot of debts and bail, as is usual. She was living as Brooke Henson, which is very unusual."
The scam came to the attention of the police when Reed applied for a summer job using Henson's name. Her employer did an internet search for her name and came across the missing person website.
When confronted by police Reed insisted that she was Henson, and had run away from home after a disagreement with her parents.
She agreed to an appointment to provide a DNA sample but failed to show up. When her room was accessed by police it became clear that she had fled.
"All she took was her cat, her toothbrush and her brushes and combs. Anything with DNA on it," said Campbell.
Reed's family confirmed to police that the person questioned was their daughter, whom they have not seen after she was charged with stealing cheques from her sister.
"She has changed dramatically since I last heard from her. Her mother passed away in 1998, and I don't know if that sent her off the deep end. But she's a very different person now," her father, Ernest Reed Jr, told the New York Post.
Reed is now on the run and police are anxious to hear of any sightings. She may be using another stolen identify in the name of Natalie Fisher.
Identity thief cons way into Harvard
By Iain Thomson on Jan 10, 2007 9:26AM