The man needs to get to Boston in a hurry, but he left his wallet and briefcase in the taxi from Center City. Or he's been in town for a job interview and needs a train ticket from New York to Boston. Whatever situation he claims to be in, this man has duped several students out of cash, and once, a check, since last May, according to University Police. "The old story was 'can you lend me a quarter, I'm new in town,' " said University Police detective supervisor Michael Carroll. "Now its not a quarter, it's 70 bucks." But Carroll said that since the man does not commit a crime, he cannot be arrested or charged. The money students give him is legally considered a loan, since he does not offer anything in return but a promise to repay. Victims can seek recourse only in a civil suit, like in small claims court. Both undergraduate and graduate students have fallen prey to the "slick-talking," well-dressed and friendly man, according to Tim Trucksess, the University Police detective who has followed the case. The detectives have distributed to officers a flier describing Ward and what he has done. He is a black male, 29 years old with a thin build. He is 5 feet 10 inches tall and 166 pounds with black hair, brown eyes and discolored front teeth. Most recently, the man convinced a student that he had lost his briefcase, and the student wrote him a check for $89. Since he didn't want to leave a paper trail by endorsing the check, the man duped a second student into accepting the unendorsed check in return for the $89 plus an additional $51. Last spring, at 36th and Chestnut streets, a student who was convinced that the man had lost his luggage in a taxi took the man to a MAC machine and withdrew $70 for him. There have been no reports of violence, Carroll said, but he warned that the man could decide at the MAC that he wants more money. He has records in other states for non-violent crimes, Carroll said. The man convinced some members of the University staff that he was the victim of a robbery and needed money to cover a fee to file a "victim compensation form." Staff members gave the man $40. Trucksess said there is little hope in collecting from a man who likely owns no property and earns no paycheck. Carroll warned that students need to be aware of security risks -- like taking the man to a MAC machine. In addition, people should not reveal personal information such as addresses and phone numbers for which the man often asks.Comments powered by Disqus
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