A woman was arrested for trespassing last week after she got caught allegedly posing as a first-year Columbia student for a few weeks. The Columbia Spectator reports, "Her nearly two-week stay on campus, during which she posed as a student, attended orientation events, and harassed first-years, came to an abrupt end on Thursday night as the young woman was escorted out of Low Library by officers from the 26th Precinct for trespassing."
The woman was initially identified as Rhea Sen, 20, but her real name may actually be Briva Patel, age 26, according to Bwog. Somehow Sen managed to gain access to Columbia facilities (such as the John Jay dining hall). And The Spectator has one anecdote from a first-year/"victim":
She tried to befriend new students, including Cami Quarta, CC ’16, who believes she was the first first-year Sen met. “We thought she was just socially awkward,” Quarta said. “She said to me, ‘Are you a freshman? I’m kind of lost, do you want to hang out with me?’”
On her way to the party at the Bronx Zoo that capped off orientation week, Quarta and a friend wound up on the subway with Sen. Even though Quarta had been told to take the train to 180th Street, Sen showed her a text message she claimed to be from her OL [Orientation Leader] instructing her to get off at an earlier stop and take a bus. The two heeded Sen’s advice, winding up far from their intended destination. A helpful police officer steered the three of them back on the subway.
“If I was alone, I don’t know where I would’ve wound up,” Quarta said. “That was probably the first sign that showed she might have been a risk.”
Soon, OLs started to get suspicious. Sen told Quarta that she lived on the sixth floor of Hartley Hall, and the next day that she lived in Carman 6B, which is not the way rooms in Carman Hall are numbered. Students said they were still unsure where she slept across the 14-day period she spent on campus. “People saw her running around, hiding in bushes, but as far as I know, nobody actually saw her in the residence halls,” Quarta said.
A famous recent grifter who pretended to attend Columbia University (as well as Harvard and California State) was Esther Reed, who used someone else's ID. As the 48 Hours report on her says, she "stole over $100,000 in student loans. Stealing identities and perpetrating fraud, Esther's escapades took her across the country, including relationships with West Point and Annapolis military men."