Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Case of Esther Reed

Here is the story of Esther Reed, a lesson in the cleverness of ID thieves.

See my video commentary -

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 |
CBC News

A U.S. federal judge has sentenced a Montana woman to more than four years in prison for stealing a missing South Carolina woman's identity and using it to attend Columbia University in New York City.

Esther Reed, 30, told the judge in Greenville, S.C., on Wednesday that she pretended to be Brooke Henson to try to start a new life to escape a dysfunctional family. She said she meant no harm. The imposter was arrested last February near Chicago and pleaded guilty in August to charges of federal fraud and identity theft, offences that could have resulted in a sentence of up to 47 years in prison and $1 million US in fines.

U.S. District Court Judge Henry Herlong sentenced Reed to 51 months in prison and ordered her to pay $125,000 in restitution to cover student loan debt.

Investigators said Reed hasn't spoken to her family in Seattle since 1999 — a year after her mother died of cancer and the same year the other woman went missing — but they don't believe she had anything to do with Henson's disappearance.

Prosecutors alleged that Reed, who studied criminology and psychology at the Ivy League school, stole or fabricated as many as five identities over a nine-year period.

She also conned her way into California State University at Fullerton and Harvard in Boston, they said.

Reed's lawyer argued her client — who dropped out of high school while living in the small Montana town of Townsend — suffers from a number of mental ailments, including depression, due to an "emotionally abusive family member."
So, clever people always find a new way!

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