1997: Professor, You’ve Been Scammed

July 10, 2016

50 Years of Covers

In November 2016, The Chronicle of Higher Education will mark its 50th anniversary. To lead up to the occasion, we’ve chosen front pages featuring some of our reporting on key events in higher education and capturing the zeitgeist of the nation’s colleges and universities over the years.

View the full collection.

I t wasn’t Harry Edwards, a sports sociologist at the University of California at Berkeley, who called dozens of colleagues across the country and asked them to lend, say, $300 to his stranded nephew. It was a con man who knew enough about Mr. Edwards’s scholarly pursuits to assume his identity on the phone. He would call an academic, talk about his work, and then report that his nephew, "Kevin Edwards," had flown into town for a job interview — and had lost his luggage, including his wallet. Could the local professor help the young man out with a loan for a hotel and a new suit? In return, "Dr. Edwards" would reimburse the professor and lecture on his campus. The scam succeeded on at least 78 campuses and netted more than $200,000, said the real Mr. Edwards, who kept track as victims contacted him: "The damn thing would be comical if it weren’t so tragic."