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Stealing Harvard



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ESTHER REED Also known as Brooke Henson and Natalie Bowman, the serial con artist and identity thief showed up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2002 as Natalie Bowman, a skilled chess player who joined the Harvard debate team (the real Natalie Bowman had graduated in 1999). Posing as Bowman, Reed sporadically attended Harvard until 2005, when she disappeared, only to resurface at Columbia University as Brooke Henson, the name of a South Carolina girl who had been missing for years. An employment background check would uncover the scam - but not before Reed vanished again. After being featured on America's Most Wanted, she was arrested at a suburban Chicago motel in 2008. Reed collected more than $100, 000 in fraudulent student loans and assumed the identities of at least three people. Now 31, she's midway through a four-year prison sentence. A movie based on her life is in the works.

Stealing Harvard

May 22, 2010


ESTHER REED Also known as Brooke Henson and Natalie Bowman, the serial con artist and identity thief showed up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2002 as Natalie Bowman, a skilled chess player who joined the Harvard debate team (the real Natalie Bowman had graduated in 1999). Posing as Bowman, Reed sporadically attended Harvard until 2005, when she disappeared, only to resurface at Columbia University as Brooke Henson, the name of a South Carolina girl who had been missing for years. An employment background check would uncover the scam - but not before Reed vanished again. After being featured on America's Most Wanted, she was arrested at a suburban Chicago motel in 2008. Reed collected more than $100, 000 in fraudulent student loans and assumed the identities of at least three people. Now 31, she's midway through a four-year prison sentence. A movie based on her life is in the works.

<b>KAAVYA VISWANATHAN </b><br><br>The class of 2008 student signed a $500, 000 two-book deal while still in high school. Her first novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, climbed to No 32 on the New York Times bestseller list before being yanked from the shelves in 2006 amid allegations of plagiarism. Several passages in Viswanathan's novel were strikingly similar to those written by young-adult authors Megan McCafferty, Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella. Despite the ensuing media maelstrom, Harvard never formally reprimanded Viswanathan;on the contrary, famed novelist Jamaica Kincaid oversaw her senior thesis. Viswanathan was soon accepted to Georgetown Law School and is currently interning at Sullivan & Cromwell, a New York-based law firm.

Stealing Harvard

May 22, 2010


KAAVYA VISWANATHAN

The class of 2008 student signed a $500, 000 two-book deal while still in high school. Her first novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, climbed to No 32 on the New York Times bestseller list before being yanked from the shelves in 2006 amid allegations of plagiarism. Several passages in Viswanathan's novel were strikingly similar to those written by young-adult authors Megan McCafferty, Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella. Despite the ensuing media maelstrom, Harvard never formally reprimanded Viswanathan;on the contrary, famed novelist Jamaica Kincaid oversaw her senior thesis. Viswanathan was soon accepted to Georgetown Law School and is currently interning at Sullivan & Cromwell, a New York-based law firm.

JOHN DARSEE The so-called "brilliant researcher" , came to Harvard Medical School in 1979 after earning a medical degree at Emory University. But suspicions among his colleagues sparked an investigation. It was soon revealed that Darsee had fabricated data for more than 100 research papers, including work published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, among others. The findings, along with the fact that none of his study co-authors were apparently aware of his misconduct, sent deep reverberations through the medical community. The National Institutes of Health asked Harvard to refund more than $100,000 that had been awarded to Darsee for research, and the scientific community was forced to acknowledge that journals’ peer-review systems provided few safeguards against intellectual dishonesty. Darsee left Harvard in disgrace, but he was able to secure a non-research-based medicine fellowship at a hospital in New York.

Stealing Harvard

May 22, 2010


JOHN DARSEE The so-called "brilliant researcher" , came to Harvard Medical School in 1979 after earning a medical degree at Emory University. But suspicions among his colleagues sparked an investigation. It was soon revealed that Darsee had fabricated data for more than 100 research papers, including work published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, among others. The findings, along with the fact that none of his study co-authors were apparently aware of his misconduct, sent deep reverberations through the medical community. The National Institutes of Health asked Harvard to refund more than $100,000 that had been awarded to Darsee for research, and the scientific community was forced to acknowledge that journals’ peer-review systems provided few safeguards against intellectual dishonesty. Darsee left Harvard in disgrace, but he was able to secure a non-research-based medicine fellowship at a hospital in New York.

<b>JAMES HOGUE </b><br><br>The 31-year-old ex-con enrolled in Princeton in 1989 as Alexi Indris Santana, a self-taught ranch hand. He managed to stay for two years, competing on the track team and winning admission to the elite Ivy Club before a high school classmate recognised him at a track meet. He was convicted of defrauding the university, spent nine months in prison and was forced to pay back $22, 000 in student loans. Yet it wasn't long before he popped up as a student at the Harvard Extension School, where he took a part-time job at the university's Mineralogical Museum in 1992 - and was arrested a few months later for stealing $50, 000 worth of gems from it. In and out of jail after that, he drifted into the world of crime. In 2007, Hogue pleaded guilty to burglarising homes in Colorado and is now serving a 10-year sentence.

Stealing Harvard

May 22, 2010


JAMES HOGUE

The 31-year-old ex-con enrolled in Princeton in 1989 as Alexi Indris Santana, a self-taught ranch hand. He managed to stay for two years, competing on the track team and winning admission to the elite Ivy Club before a high school classmate recognised him at a track meet. He was convicted of defrauding the university, spent nine months in prison and was forced to pay back $22, 000 in student loans. Yet it wasn't long before he popped up as a student at the Harvard Extension School, where he took a part-time job at the university's Mineralogical Museum in 1992 - and was arrested a few months later for stealing $50, 000 worth of gems from it. In and out of jail after that, he drifted into the world of crime. In 2007, Hogue pleaded guilty to burglarising homes in Colorado and is now serving a 10-year sentence.

<b>GINA GRANT </b><br><br>Unlike the others, she didn't pad her resume, steal someone's work, assume a fake identity or bilk people of money. The 18-year-old merely left one small biographical detail off her Harvard application: the fact that she had bludgeoned her alcoholic mother to death with a crystal candlestick when she was 14. Granted early admission in 1995, Grant was soon featured in a Boston Globe article about disadvantaged students who managed to excel. Shortly thereafter, newspaper editors received anonymous tips about the murder case, which had been sealed because Grant was a minor at the time. Harvard quickly rescinded its offer, but Grant didn't have to go far to continue her schooling. She graduated from nearby Tufts University in 1999.

Stealing Harvard

May 22, 2010


GINA GRANT

Unlike the others, she didn't pad her resume, steal someone's work, assume a fake identity or bilk people of money. The 18-year-old merely left one small biographical detail off her Harvard application: the fact that she had bludgeoned her alcoholic mother to death with a crystal candlestick when she was 14. Granted early admission in 1995, Grant was soon featured in a Boston Globe article about disadvantaged students who managed to excel. Shortly thereafter, newspaper editors received anonymous tips about the murder case, which had been sealed because Grant was a minor at the time. Harvard quickly rescinded its offer, but Grant didn't have to go far to continue her schooling. She graduated from nearby Tufts University in 1999.

One of the world's best-known universities, Harvard was in the headlines this week for the wrong reason - it was found that a talespinning 23-year-old had fooled his way through the school with an elaborately crafted academic background. But long before Adam Wheeler scammed his way into this fabled Ivy League university, dozens of frauds have ingeniously infiltrated the school. These are the most notorious five:

Stealing Harvard

May 22, 2010


One of the world's best-known universities, Harvard was in the headlines this week for the wrong reason - it was found that a talespinning 23-year-old had fooled his way through the school with an elaborately crafted academic background. But long before Adam Wheeler scammed his way into this fabled Ivy League university, dozens of frauds have ingeniously infiltrated the school. These are the most notorious five:

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