Impersonating a College Student


Last October a group of new Rice University students went to Six Flags AstroWorld. Among them was David Jovani Vanegas, a sophomore transfer student from UT. No one knew him too well since he lived off campus, but he was friendly. When the group got lost between the Light Rail and the park entrance, Vanegas hung around. He was a political science major, he told his new friends. He mentioned he was really glad he got into Rice.

At least, that’s what he said. Now, roughly a year later, the group knows that none of that information is true. On September 13, Rice police arrested Vanegas for criminal trespass. Turns out he wasn’t an actual Rice student but a 20-year-old impersonator. Starting last September, Vanegas began eating in Rice’s dining halls, hanging out with students and attending classes. Some nights, he crashed in friends’ dorm rooms when he was too tired to go home.

Most of the campus learned about Vanegas’s arrest in the undergraduate newspaper, The Rice Thresher. Vanegas’s friend, senior Daniel Rasheed, turned him in to the police, the paper reported. Rasheed himself had transferred to Rice the previous winter. For the past six months, he’d doubted Vanegas’s student status.

“I just wanted to know the truth,” Rasheed told the Thresher. “I just thought they’d be like, ‘Okay, he’s not a student.'”

The university is doing more than that, though. On the day of Vanegas’s arrest, criminal trespass charges were filed against him (but later dismissed). Within the next few weeks, campus administrators alleged that Vanegas had taken close to $3,700 worth of food from Rice cafeterias. On September 28, the district attorney’s office filed felony charges for aggregate theft. Bail was set at $2,000.

(via The Museum of Hoaxes)