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Identity theft not ruled out in fake student case

Published: 2:15PM Tuesday October 16, 2012 Source: ONE News

The University of Auckland is set to tighten security measures at its medicine school after it discovered an imposter had attended classes for two years.

The university has confirmed it has launched an investigation after staff discovered the male student had been imposing as a medicine student despite being denied entrance to the programme in 2010.

Head of the Medical Programme associate professor Warwick Bagg told ONE News a formal trespass notice was served on him today.

"As soon as the university is able to confirm evidence relating to the individual, we will pass this on to the appropriate authorities, including the police who will determine the next stages of the investigation" said Bagg.

The possibility the man stole another student's identity or that a medical student was helping him has not been ruled out by the university. 

"Obviously students have to have a student ID and a swipe card...sometimes it is easy to what we call tailgate behind other students, but to do that for two years would be very difficult," said Dean of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences Professor John Fraser.

The man's deception was uncovered when an assignment was submitted that did not match any name on the class list.

By that stage, he had managed to operate undetected for nearly two years, attending classes and tutorials, and even working on human corpses.

The university has denied the he had ever worked with a patient on a "one to one basis".

"We understand that he assigned himself to a group, but whether he actually was there, on site, and engaged with the patients, we are reasonably sure that didn't occur," said Fraser.

The university says it now has concerns for the student's well-being as he went to great lengths to hide his deception from fellow students and family.

"They (students) all had no idea of the level of duplicity this individual was capable of and it appears he kept the truth from everyone he came in contact with," said Bagg.

The discovery comes just as third year medicine students are about to start exams.  They have been instructed by the university not to speak out about their classmate out of fears for his mental wellbeing.

A student from the University of Auckland's medical school, who requested to remain anonymous, told ONE News yesterday the student was good friends with a number of students in the class, and was popular.

"During this time he had access to confidential patient information during clinical attachments.

"It is understood that he obtained a forged student doctor identification badge and was permitted to interview patients as a medical student despite not being one."