The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 56.0°F | Fog/Mist

Impostor Robbed APhi; Arrested Later at URI

By Brian Rosenberg
Editor in Chief

A woman posing as an Alpha Phi alumna forged a check and used the credit cards of several members of MIT's Alpha Phi chapter. The crimes took place before spring break, when the woman, using the name Tracy Lynn Ryder, stayed six nights at the Alpha Phi house in Kenmore Square.

Lisa Sargent, a Canadian woman, was arrested and charged with larceny last week by University of Rhode Island police after similar activity there. Anne P. Glavin, chief of MIT Campus Police, said all the evidence available indicates that Sargent posed as Ryder at MIT.

Campus Police received three complaints about Sargent from Alpha Phi members, the first on March 17. Sargent also spent a few nights at Phi Beta Epsilon, but Campus Police have received no reports of any thefts there, Glavin said.

Sargent obtained lodging at the houses by presenting a variety of stories describing her background and a recent misfortune. A bulletin released by Campus Police on March 20 says she has represented herself as a student at the University of Southern California and at McGill University in Canada. She has also said her father is the U.S. Ambassador to Japan. At different times, she said she had just had her purse stolen and had no money or identification, or that she had been abused by her boyfriend.

Alpha Phi President Susan K. Scruggs '93 said Sargent slept in her room. She said sorority sisters became suspicious of Sargent when several noticed money missing from the house.

"We called USC and they had no record of her ever being a student there," Scruggs said. "We asked her to leave -- we packed her up and moved her out."

Scruggs said several sisters, including herself, later discovered that their credit cards had been used. "Most of us will not be responsible [for the cost of Sargent's purchases] because we signed a statement that we will prosecute" if Sargent is brought to Boston, Scruggs said.

"She used a check of mine to pay someone at another school," Scruggs said. "The check bounced -- I guess she picked the wrong person to forge a check off of," she added.

Also visited PBE

Before she went to Alpha Phi, Sargent stayed at PBE for four nights. "She called at 3:30 a.m. and said she was stranded in Boston on her way to Jamaica," said Michael M. Tso '92, president of PBE. "A couple freshmen invited her to stay."

Tso said it took two days to "find any inconsistencies" in Sargent's story. "She said her mother was having a liver transplant and that she called because a friend of hers had a boyfriend who knew someone at the house.

"Later she said she was going to visit her little sister at Alpha Phi, then leave. She called to make airline reservations, but I called several airlines and none of them had reservations for her," he said.

"She had her birth certificate with her," Tso said. "The name [on the certificate] was Lisa Georgia Ryder. It was Canadian," he added.

"She was a good liar -- very intelligent and quick on her feet," he said.

Prosecution possible

Scruggs said Sargent is being brought to court for her URI charges on April 8. "If she shows up, she'll be arrested and prosecuted in Boston," she said.

Scruggs said the Boston police told her Sargent has a history of similar behavior. "She's 29 and has been doing this for 10 years. She spent a year and a half in jail in Canada for larceny. She's showed up at several schools -- she went from school to school before each of their spring breaks.

"We're just really tired of talking about it. We've basically turned it over to the police and are letting them do the work," she added.