Well-dressed man allegedly targets grad students

February 23, 2009 9:51:53 AM PST
Duke University graduate students, who live off-campus, may be the target of a scam.Graduate students who live off-campus have been targeted in the past few months and at least 10 students may have come into contact with the person in question. That's according to rumors circulating in the graduate school community.

According to reports, a well-dressed man goes to the home of a Duke University graduate student and tells the student their car was broken into.

The man then asks for money or to use a cell phone.

Students say he mentions the name of a neighbor to gain the their trust. However, it isn't clear if he knows any of the people he names.

Only one of the students who have talked to the man reported the incident to the Duke University Police Department.

A first-year graduate student said he was held at knife point after the man came to his home and the student offered the man a ride.

Some of the residences targeted include Alexan Place, the Lofts at Lakeview, the Beech Lake Apartments and the Watts Hospital Hillandale neighborhood.

According to the Duke University Police Department, the mystery man has not robbed anyone so technically no crime was committed.

Duke police are investigating the incident. At this time, it is not known if the well-dressed man is the same person identified in all of the incidents or if he is working alone.

Maj. Gloria Graham of the Duke University Police Department told The Chronicle it has not notified students about the reported incident because the department does not believe there is a significant safety risk.

Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta also told the newspaper the police department has not informed him of the alleged incidents.

However, a graduate student reportedly announced during a Feb. student council meeting that a man threatened her with a gun during an incident similar to the ones described by other graduate students.

When asked by The Chronicle to comment on the incident, the woman declined.

Although university police continue to investigate the claims, it is not clear if the Durham Police Department is aware of the incidents. All of the alleged contact with the man occurred in the city limits of Durham.


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