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school daze

Columbia Impostor Caught Faking Everything, Advocating Bus Over Subway

Columbia University in New York on Wednesday April 11, 2007.  John Kluge donated one the largest ever gufts to an American University totaling $400 milion. Photographer: Daniel Barry/Bloomberg News

A woman pretending to be a Columbia University freshman named Rhea Sen — a fake name disturbingly close to that of a famous Indian actress — was arrested on campus last week for criminal trespassing after a long, strange con. Bwog reports that she's actually Briva Patel, 26, and the Columbia Spectator has a rundown of her escapades so far this brief semester: pretending to be a first-year, claiming to live in the dorms, and attending a variety of orientation events. "We thought she was just socially awkward," said an understandably spooked new student, Cami Quarta. "She said to me, 'Are you a freshman? I'm kind of lost, do you want to hang out with me?'" But she should've known when Patel, as Sen, insisted they take the bus instead of the subway.

The Spectator reports:

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 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.”

Commenters claim they've seen Patel around campus for months, while the Spectator also adds that she sent insane, curse-laden Facebook messages to Quarta, further indicating some serious instability.*

No one, though, has any idea where Patel lived. "People saw her running around, hiding in bushes," said Quarta, "but as far as I know, nobody actually saw her in the residence halls."

*This post originally credited Sen's Facebook messages to reporting from IvyGate; the Spectator published them first.

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Photo: DANIEL BARRY/Bloomberg News via Getty