UMPD investigates scam

Suspects were flagged for suspicious activity at the University Bookstore.

by Andrew Penkalski

The University of Minnesota Police Department is investigating a series of fraudulent on-campus U Card purchases spanning from January to the beginning of March. A search warrant released Tuesday by Hennepin County District Court detailed a University police investigation of several individuals, citing one 22-year-old suspect as the alleged mastermind behind the purchase patterns. Police searched the main suspectâÄôs Marcy-Holmes apartment March 3, where they seized a variety of bank statements, business cards and University-related material. The suspect allegedly recruited several individuals to collectively register for the same classes through the UniversityâÄôs College of Continuing Education. According to the affidavit, University Bookstore records indicate that the primary suspect has attempted large-scale fraudulent purchases in the past before. After receiving U Cards during the registration process, the suspects charged several thousand dollars of merchandise at the bookstore to their student accounts. According to the affidavit, the average amount charged was approximately $4,000, with MacBook Pro notebook computers being a common item in several purchases. According to the affidavit, it was later discovered that all individuals in question either withdrew from their courses or were dropped for failing to pay for the classes. After purchasing the computers, several of these individuals tried to sell them. According to the affidavit, at least one Craigslist page advertising a MacBook Pro was connected to the principle suspect. One suspect attempted to purchase a MacBook Pro at the beginning of March, according to the affidavit. While attempting to purchase it, the individual was flagged by bookstore staff for suspicious activity. âÄúWeâÄôve taken the necessary steps to stop this, and there is nothing to indicate this is anything more than an isolated incident,âÄù University police Chief Greg Hestness said in a statement Tuesday. âÄúHowever, we will be fully reviewing all of the security protocols in place with regards to the issuance of U Cards to see if there are places for improvements,âÄù At this point, none of the suspects listed have been arrested, according to Hennepin County jail records.