8/21/2008

The penalties for Identity Fraud

47 years for six stolen identities.

A 1400 SAT, a Stolen Identity, and Now a Guilty Plea From a Former Columbia Student

A woman pleaded guilty on Tuesday to stealing the identity of a missing woman in order to attend Columbia University, the Associated Press reported.

Esther Elizabeth Reed, who is 30, faces up to 47 years in prison and $1-million in fines for identity-theft, mail-fraud, wire-fraud, and loan-fraud charges. Ms. Reed was arrested earlier this year and accused of using the identity of Brooke Henson, a South Carolina woman who has been missing since 1999, to get into Columbia and obtain student loans.

Prosecutors say that, starting in 2001, Ms. Reed juggled six false identities to attend Columbia and California State University at Fullerton, according to the AP. Previous news reports have said Ms. Reed was also admitted to Harvard University under a false identity. At Columbia, at least, prosecutors say Ms. Reed did gain admission using her own SAT score, a 1400. —Elyse Ashburn

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