Scammer Attempts to Steal Law Degree by Claiming Sex Change Operation

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday October 22, 2019

Higher education is expensive. So is gender reassignment. But a scammer hit upon a way to have both for free... sort of.

English news source Chronicle Live reports that a 30-year-old man attempted to appropriate a young woman's law degree for himself by sending an email to Durham University in which he claimed that he was that same graduate, only now going through gender transition.

Nathan Hogg, the article said, asked Durham to issue him a diploma under his "new" male name.

The scam had even more levels in that Hogg used details from the female graduate's authentic LinkedIn account as a template for a fake account he set up at the social media platform, reported The Durham Tab.

Moreover, the scammer had faked a document with what appeared to be the woman's signature as well as the signatures of two purported witnesses. He offered this in lieu of the original diploma, which the university asked to have back but which Hogg claimed to have lost.

Coincidentally, at around the same time, the real graduate got in touch with her alma mater to request a reference. The university quickly caught on to the ruse.

The Tab article said that when the real female graduate in question found out about the scam, she was "shocked." The victim of this novel attempt at identity theft told the court that, "The whole matter has caused me to feel violated and upset that someone has purported to be me."

Hogg's lawyer, Paul Dunn, advanced the theory that his client had been going through a rough patch and this was his way of dealing with it.

"He has split up recently with his partner," Dunn "He is quite a depressed anxious young man who is finding it difficult.

"He himself undertook a two-three year degree but did not complete it," Dunn added. "Maybe there's a sense there that he has failed himself and was trying to make himself feel better."

The institute of higher learning itself learned a lesson, reported the Northern Echo, and has said that it will implement additional procedures to verify the identity of people making such requests in order to counter similar attempts at identity theft in the future.

Hogg pled guilty to fraud and was sentenced to community service, rehabilitation, and an order to provide £500 as recompense to the Durham graduate whose degree he attempted to steal.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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