Two Suspected Con Artists Arrested by Harvard Police

University Police yesterday arrested two suspected con artists in Harvard Square who allegedly bilked at least three Asian American female students out of hundreds of dollars.

Edward Lee Powell Jr., '38, and Diana Perry, '47, were arrested after a former victim spotted the suspects and called Harvard Police, according to Lt. John F. Rooney."

"She was definitely pleased when we arrested them," Rooney said of the victim. "Unfortunately, there is no reward."

Powell was allegedly in the process of bilking a fourth Asian American female out of $500 when five undercover detectives arrived on the scene.

The detectives, directed by Richard P. DeCruz, put Powell under surveillance for a half an hour. When Perry arrived on the scene, the detectives moved in and arrested them.

"We had more than sufficient probable cause at that point to make the arrest," Rooney said. "We didn't want to take the chance of losing them."

Rooney said the suspects used a temporary address in Roxbury but had recently traveled back and forth between here and New York. The suspects could be charged with multiple counts of larceny of more than $250 and larceny by false pretenses, Rooney said.

According to police reports, the con artists told victims they found a check for $4,500 on the street. They then asked the victim to deposit the check and split the cash if it cleared.

The suspects then allegedly asked for a $500 payment in cash as a sign of goodwill that the victim would not keep all the money. The con artists allegedly pressured the victim to withdraw the $500 from a bank machine and give it to them.

Three of these cases, all Involving Asian American female students, have been reported to Harvard police since June 1992. Six other cases were reported to Cambridge Police.

The suspects allegedly took in at least $2000 since beginning the operation, Rooney said. Police did not know why the suspects targeted Asian-American females specifically.

The suspects were last seen in the Square on March 30 and 31. They will be arraigned Monday morning at Cambridge Third District Court.

Andrew L. Wright contributed to the reporting of this story.