Esther Reed

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Esther Elizabeth Reed
Born Esther Elizabeth Reed
(1978-03-08) March 8, 1978 (age 40)
Townsend, Montana, U.S.
Other names Brooke Henson
Natalie Fisher
Natalie Bowman
Jennifer Myers
Criminal status Released from prison on October 27, 2011
Conviction(s) Fraud
Identity Theft
Criminal charge Mail fraud
Wire fraud
Identity theft
False Statements
Penalty 51 months

Esther Elizabeth Reed (born March 8, 1978) is an American woman convicted of fraud and identity theft charges. She is best known for attending California State University, Fullerton and Columbia University School of General Studies using stolen identities, including that of missing person Brooke Henson.[1][2][3]

Biography[edit]

Early life and education[edit]

Reed was born in 1978 in Townsend, Montana, to Ernie and Florence Reed, the youngest of Florence's nine children. After her parents separated in the early 1990s, Reed moved with her mother to Mountlake Terrace, Washington. Reed dropped out of Mountlake Terrace High School in 1995;[4][5] three years later, her mother died of colon cancer.[6]

Missing person[edit]

In October 1999, Reed pled guilty in King County, Washington to attempted possession of stolen property. Shortly after, Reed disappeared and her family didn't hear from her again.[4][7] She was reported missing in 2004 by her father after Social Security checks revealed she was alive.[8][9][10] While Reed was missing, she assumed the identities of other people and often told friends she supported herself as a professional chess player.[11] Reed's situation is unusual because, unlike most identity thieves, she didn't use the identities to run up credit card debt. Instead, she used the fictitious names to obtain an education and start a new life.[12][13]

In 2001, Reed assumed the identity of Natalie Bowman and enrolled as an adjunct student at California State University in Fullerton, California.[14][15][3] While at Fullerton, Reed joined CSUF's debate team and competed in several tournaments, often advancing to the final round.[16][17][18][19][20] At CSUF, Reed became friends with several debaters at the United States Military Academy at West Point and at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. She dated one of the cadets for an extended period of time. Eventually the US Army Criminal Investigation Command investigated Reed, believing she might have been involved in espionage; the investigators determined these suspicions were unfounded.[7][6]

In 2003, Reed moved on and earned her GED, using the identity of Brooke Henson, another missing person from Travelers Rest, South Carolina. Reed also took the SAT and achieved a score of 1400. Using her new credentials, Reed applied to Columbia University, School of General Studies, and was admitted to the university. She attended Columbia for two years, where she majored in psychology and had a 3.22 GPA.[12][13][21]

In 2006, after an internet search by a potential employer revealed Brooke Henson's real identity, police in South Carolina alerted New York City police to Reed.[22][18][23][24][25][26][27] After agreeing to give DNA to prove she was indeed Brooke Henson, Esther Reed fled New York City. She relocated to Chicago and changed her identity to Jennifer Myers.[28][29]

Reed was featured on the United States Secret Service's 10-most-wanted fugitive list and America's Most Wanted on the Fox Television Network.[30][31] She was featured twice in 48 Hours Mystery episodes on CBS: the first, Capture the Queen, aired in 2007, and the second, Catch Her If You Can, aired in 2009.[18][32]

Capture[edit]

On February 3, 2008, in Tinley Park, Illinois, Reed was captured by Tinley Park Police who were searching the entire area for a gunman who shot and killed five women at a Lane Bryant store. The police were checking all out-of-state license plates in the area. Reed's car was in a Sleep Inn motel parking lot in the area. Federal marshals and police knocked on her motel door and asked her for her ID. The authorities noticed that the ID she handed them had been flagged by the Secret Service, so she was transported to the police station for questioning, where she confirmed her real name.[33][34][35]

Conviction[edit]

After being found by the police, Reed was extradited to South Carolina, where she was tried on four felony charges and faced a sentence of up to 47 years in prison. At her sentencing, Reed's attorney argued that her behavior was the result of mental health issues stemming from the death of her mother and severe social anxiety. The lawyer said that Reed began to experience social phobia during her freshman year of high school, that her difficulties were mitigated by the presence of her mother, and that once she lost her mother's support, Reed's life began to unravel.[12][21][36][37][6][38] Reed pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 51 months in prison. She was released from federal prison on October 27, 2011.[39]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gaitan, Adrian (May 5, 2010). "The Girl Who Conned Cal State Fullerton". Daily Titan.
  2. ^ "Reed Charged With ID Theft". Harvard Crimson. February 19, 2009.
  3. ^ a b Giacobbe, Alyssa (September 27, 2010). "Admissions of Guilt?". Boston Magazine. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Sullivan, Jennifer (November 1, 2007). "Feds searching for local woman in ID theft cases". The Seattle Times.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 28, 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c http://www.sabrinaerdely.com/docs/IvyLeague.pdf
  7. ^ a b Alpert, Lukas I. (January 8, 2007). "ID Theft 101: Beauty Cons Her Way Onto Ivys' Rolls As An Ed. Ringer". New York Post. Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  8. ^ Garvey, Marianne; Alpert, Lukas I. (January 12, 2007). "Ivy Gal Fled Her Past". New York Post. Retrieved September 30, 2009.
  9. ^ Leonard, Tom (March 4, 2008). "Woman's 'nine-year identity fraud spree'". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
  10. ^ Alpert, Lukas I.; Garvey, Marianne (January 22, 2007). "Sick Psych-Out". New York Post. Retrieved October 10, 2009.
  11. ^ Stasi, Linda (December 1, 2007). "How Did She Do It?". New York Post. Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  12. ^ a b c "The girl who conned Cal State Fullerton". Daily Titan. May 5, 2010. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Con artist pleads guilty to stealing missing woman's identity to get into ivy league school". Foxnews.com. August 19, 2008. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  14. ^ "The girl who conned Cal State Fullerton". Daily Titan. May 5, 2010. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  15. ^ Pignatelli, Margherita (February 19, 2009). "Reed Charged With ID Theft | News | The Harvard Crimson". Thecrimson.com. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  16. ^ Gaitan, Adrian (May 5, 2010). "The girl who conned Cal State Fullerton". Daily Titan.
  17. ^ Porter, Jane (August 28, 2008). "U.S. Colleges Stumped by Fraudulent Applications". Business Week. Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  18. ^ a b c "Capture The Queen". CBS News. December 1, 2007. Retrieved September 30, 2009.
  19. ^ Tuchman, Gary (January 19, 2007). "Woman steals another's identity, gets into Ivy League". CNN. Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  20. ^ "Esther Reed – The secret life of a sophisticated identity thief". Credit Identity Safe. February 8, 2008. Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  21. ^ a b "Mother's death led to identity thefts". Helena Independent Record. May 9, 2009. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  22. ^ Ward, Vicky (February 11, 2009). "How an Ordinary Girl Faked Her Way Into the Ivy League". Huffington Post. Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  23. ^ "Wie sich eine Hochstaplerin durchs Leben log". Welt Online (in German). December 14, 2007. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
  24. ^ Olimpio, Guido (November 4, 2007). "Il giallo della donna dai mille volti "Truffatrice o nuova Mata Hari?"". Corriere della Sera (in Italian).
  25. ^ Tuchman, Gary (January 19, 2007). "Woman steals another's identity, gets into Ivy League". CNN. Retrieved September 30, 2009.
  26. ^ Biegelman, Martin T. (2009). "Entry to the Ivy League through ID theft". Identity Theft Handbook: Detection, Prevention, and Security. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 50–52. ISBN 0-470-17999-6.
  27. ^ Bennett, Chuck (May 8, 2009). "Ivy Con Gal Planned A Lifelong Lie". New York Post. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
  28. ^ "Con Artist Pleads Guilty to Stealing Missing Woman's Identity to Get Into Ivy League School". Fox News. August 19, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2009.
  29. ^ Olimpio, Guido (December 4, 2008). "Usa: tutti a caccia della "regina"". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Retrieved October 7, 2009.
  30. ^ Sullivan, Jennifer (February 6, 2008). "Mountlake Terrace con artist suspect nabbed after nearly a decade on the run". Seattle Times. Retrieved September 30, 2009.
  31. ^ "Most Wanted Fugitive Ester Reed Captured". Fiscal Year 2008 Annual Report (PDF). United States Secret Service. p. 15. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 25, 2012.
  32. ^ "Catch Her If You Can". CBS News. May 9, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2009.
  33. ^ Moser, Whet. "The strange disappearance and inadvertent capture of Esther Reed | Bleader". Chicago Reader. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  34. ^ "Columbia Con Artist Nabbed in Chicago". Daily News. New York.
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 28, 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  36. ^ "Con artist pleads guilty to stealing missing woman's identity to get into ivy league school". Fox News. August 19, 2008. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  37. ^ Pignatelli, Margherita (February 19, 2009). "Reed Charged With ID Theft | News | The Harvard Crimson". Thecrimson.com. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  38. ^ Leonard, Tom (February 11, 2009). "Ivy League identity thief 'was hiding from strict family'". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved September 30, 2009.
  39. ^ "Esther Elizabet Reed." [sic] Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on October 30, 2011.

External links[edit]

  • [1], Daily Titan, May 5, 2010