The Week in “Alums”

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A curious mention of a Columbia “alum” in the news today in the form of a police report. High school dropout and apparent puppy enthusiast Esther Reed stole the identity of a missing South Carolina woman named Brooke Henson. Using Henson’s name and personal information, Reed took her SATs and GED and gained entrance to Harvard and Columbia.

Reed dropped out of school and was on the lam for more than a year before she was arrested on Saturday on charges of fraud and identity theft. Henson—who has been missing for nearly eight years—is still missing.

While at Columbia, Reed is believed to have nabbed $100 grand of financial aid. CU administration has admitted that she was enrolled up until last year, but did not provide any details.

Did you know Brooke Henson/Esther Reed or know any details of her time at Columbia? Let us know, email [email protected]

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  1. wow bwog....  

    For the first time in ages, Ivygate actually beat you to a story. Get your troops together.

  2. Anonymous  

    This is the coolest thing I have ever heard.

  3. elna

    This was here last year. Or it was on the news.

  4. Alum

    Do we know whether she attended the College or GS? Since the story first broke my sense has been the latter -- or maybe even Continuing Education. But the claim that she got so much financial aid is a new one on me and suggests that she was in the College, since so much aid would have been hard to come by in the other divisions.

    Also, BWOG, you misspelled "Alums" in the headline. Please be more careful with my name from now on.

  5. SAT

    I'm somewhat confused. Did she use the stolen identity to take the exams, or did she also steal the exam scores?

  6. purple  

    from other articles, it appears as though she faked the exam scores - which, from what I remember of the SAT process seems even more impressive.

  7. hey lookie!!

    At least she's wearing columbia blue instead of crimson in the picture. Atta girl!

    Then again, we did give her $100K.

  8. she's  

    totally gonna kill that puppy. And then steal its identity.

  9. lets take a minute  

    and acknowledge that the puppy is way cute.

  10. google is sweet  

    She took the GED and SAT herself under the stolen name and was a student in GS. Let's see if I can link to the info...

    • Alum

      Thanks for linking to the indictment. The charges say that she intended to obtain over $100K in financial aid, but not that she actually received that much. It also seems to say most of the aid she received was in the form of external loans rather than CU grants. That helps explain how she got so much aid at GS.

  11. wait...  

    this still doesn't explain why she couldn't use her own identity???

  12. strange

    Very strange. The only thing stranger would be if she had gone to high school under an alias, become valedictorian, etc...

  13. Mercy

    She's clearly very clever, albeit in a slightly devious way. I say they should have let her stay. She could have been Columbia's next Frank Abagnale.

  14. wow  

    so did she choose us over harvard?

  15. sigh  

    this only adds to the theory that GS is the back door to columbia...

  16. Does anyone know...

    If you she killed person whose identity she stole?

  17. ...  

    i really don't get it...

    i can understand some kind of identity theft scheme for financial gain... but seriously, earning a college degree in someone else's name? what's the point? if you want that degree to mean anything, you're going to have to pay back the loans...

    unless her time here was, uh, anthropological in nature. perhaps she had always wondered what these sorts of places are like...

    or perhaps she killed the other girl and was just operating in autopilot fantasyland, living it up in morningside heights. (although to be honest with you, if i was a murderer on the run, operating on stolen identity cash, i certainly wouldn't be hanging out in butler. c'mon!)

    sadly, identity theft is probably the only way to get any meaningful financial support in gs, regardless of academic performance. :/

  18. butler

    "if i was a murderer on the run, operating on stolen identity cash, i certainly wouldn't be hanging out in butler..."

    Why not? Butler has its fair share of suspicious individuals.

  19. Anonymous

    didn't this happen last year? why is this news?

  20. i think the  

    puppy is a shih tzu. they are so goddamn cute as kids. then they grow out their hair and become dandies. it's really gross.

  21. FurnaldHall

    Are people awaiting trial allowed to sign book contracts?

    • alum

      Actually, there was a law passed in the 1970s prohibiting criminals from gaining profit from their crimes through books, movies, etc. (FYI - it wasn't a retroactive law -- Frank Lucas -- of American Gangster -- committed his crimes prior to the law's inception and sold his story years later for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  22. Timothy  

    Brooke was in my University Writing class freshman year! She was always pretty sweet. Quite frankly, meeting a con artist was probably the only good thing about Uni writing...

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