Impostor Posing as Financial Aid Officer Spends Thousands on Calls

UPDATED: July 20, 2012, at 11:25 a.m.

An impostor made thousands of dollars worth of international phone calls from a Harvard student’s account after obtaining the undergraduate’s personal information by pretending to be a Harvard financial aid officer, according to Director of Financial Aid Sally C. Donahue.

In an email to 4,800 undergraduates who have applied for 2012-13 financial aid and 3,600 parents, the Financial Aid Office said that the man called a student and asked for his mother’s maiden name and the last four digits of his social security number. He claimed that he needed the information in order to process the student’s request for grant aid or loans.

He then used the information to change the password on a non-Harvard account owned by the student, according to Donahue.

Donahue said that when the student’s family found out about the phone call from the supposed aid officer, they became concerned and called the number back.

They reached a voice mail message for the Office of Admissions, but after calling again they discovered that the number had been disconnected and was only playing a Verizon support message.

The Financial Aid Office stated that the individual does not represent Harvard and cautioned students not to give out any private information over the telephone. The message also advised any student who receives a suspicious call to contact the Financial Aid Office.

—Check for updates.

—Staff writer Julia K. Dean can be reached at