Serial scammer ‘Jeff’ targets QU — again

Eight colleges. Eight years. One scam.
Someone introducing himself as Jeff has perpetrated the same comedy club ticket scam against college students on at least eight campuses across five states in the last decade alone (Infographic by Lindsey Komson, Amanda Riha and Connor Youngberg).
Someone introducing himself as “Jeff” has perpetrated the same comedy club ticket scam against college students on at least eight campuses across five states in the last decade alone (Infographic by Lindsey Komson, Amanda Riha and Connor Youngberg).

A man claiming to represent the nonexistent “Quinnipiac Activities Club” entered classrooms on Quinnipiac University’s Mount Carmel Campus on Sept. 28 to advertise tickets to a New York comedy show.

But the perpetrator, who introduced himself only as “Jeff,” is a serial scammer with a regional reputation. He has been duping college students in the Northeast with the same ruse for at least a decade — and he has targeted Quinnipiac students before.

Tony Reyes, Quinnipiac’s chief of Public Safety, announced in a university-wide email just before 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 28 that Public Safety officers were searching the university’s main campus for the individual after a student reported witnessing suspicious activity in the Center for Communications and Computing and Engineering building.

“We received a report today around 1 p.m. from a student who said an unidentified male was going into classrooms in CCE on the Mount Carmel Campus to sell tickets to a New York comedy show,” Reyes wrote in the email. “The student said he believed the male was attempting to scam him and the other students, and used a tap system device to take credit card payments.”

Reyes later notified students, faculty and staff that the university’s Department of Public Safety had partnered with the Hamden Police Department to “identify and arrest the person responsible.”

“Please know that this individual is not a member of any QU club, and that the university would not sanction any activity that would disrupt classes or any university operations,” Reyes wrote in the email update just before 5:45 p.m. “If you believe you are a victim of this scam, please contact your bank or credit card company immediately for further instructions.”

Although Reyes released a photograph of a potential suspect in the scam, officials had neither identified nor located the suspicious individual as of publication. Reyes did not immediately respond to The Chronicle’s request for additional comment on the incident.

However, a quick Google search revealed just how many times “Jeff” — or maybe a gaggle of self-proclaimed Jeffs — has perpetrated this exact scheme on college campuses up and down the East Coast over the last decade.

Quinnipiac students in March 2015 fell victim to the same ruse when a man named “Jeff” claiming to represent “Quinnipiac Activities” barged into classrooms to sell tickets to a show at the New York Comedy Club.

But Quinnipiac is far from the only university where the swindler has become somewhat of a living legend. Someone introducing himself as “Jeff” has performed the ruse on at least eight college campuses across five states.

Scores of Reddit threads indicate that the veteran scammer targeted students at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2016 — and then again in 2020. In both 2018 and 2022, the con man appeared to dupe students at Stony Brook University in New York.

But during the spring 2023 semester, “Jeff” — or a remarkably similar perpetrator — went on a monthslong scamming spree.

Early in the semester, he showed up at the State University of New York at Albany. Then, he hit Pennsylvania’s Drexel University in February. He appeared at Temple University and Rutgers University in March before targeting Boston University in April.

And then “Jeff” seemed to vanish — that is, until he resurfaced on Quinnipiac’s Mount Carmel Campus on Sept. 28.

Hamden police are working to arrest the unidentified man pictured above in connection with a ticket scam that took place on Quinnipiac University’s Mount Carmel Campus on Sept. 28 (Photo courtesy of Chief of Public Safety Tony Reyes).

In most of these instances, students took to social media to warn others about the on-campus ticket scam. But former students then flooded the comment sections to provide some much-needed context about the ruse: it was not nearly as novel as it seemed.

“This is still going on?!” one Redditor commented on a March 2023 post about the scam’s revival at Drexel. “This happened when I was a student 2010-2015.”

Underneath almost every thread, users made it abundantly clear that someone had been perpetrating the scheme on college campuses for far longer — a decade longer — than the public accounts alone might suggest.

“They are still doing this?” another Redditor wrote when the scam reappeared at Stony Brook in September 2022. “Been out of SBU for 15 years.”

One former Temple student was astounded to learn the ruse they remembered falling victim to as a college freshman was still somehow around nearly a decade later.

“Crazy that he is still vibin,” the user wrote in the March 2023 thread.

Others, meanwhile, realized only amid the Reddit frenzy that too they had been conned.

“I bought these back in 2008,” another former Temple student wrote. “Just now realizing they were a scam.”

But in yet another perplexing twist in the already bizarre story, the New York Comedy Club is a real venue.

A club employee on Sept. 30 denied having any knowledge of the yearslong charade and said the scheme was “not affiliated with the club.”

“We are definitely not aware of that,” the employee, who declined to provide his name, said. “That wouldn’t have been us.”

More confounding still, a different employee then confirmed on Oct. 2 that the venue honors the purple-and-white ticket stubs “Jeff” advertises on college campuses so long as patrons make reservations.

“It’s a third party, but we do accept those passes,” the employee told The Chronicle, noting that a separate entity, Monetary Marketing, is ultimately responsible for the club’s third-party ticket sales.

Although “Jeff” sells the admit-two comedy show tickets — which, in line with the New York City club’s online ticket prices, have a printed $50 face value — to students and faculty for $10, there is a notable catch.

Per the fine print, the club enforces a minimum per person purchase requirement that obligates each patron to order at least two food or drink items. The club then adds an automatic 18% gratuity charge to all purchases — all before factoring in New York City’s 8.875% sales tax.

And the cheapest drinks on the New York Comedy Club’s menu are $7.50, meaning the minimum order required with an admit-two ticket — four drinks with gratuity and tax — would instantly run up an additional $38.06 tab.

“The tickets may be legitimate, but I was led to believe that I was paying $20 for two people total,” one Yelp reviewer wrote after buying tickets in a college lecture and falling victim to the club’s drink minimum. “It’s a cheap tactic to mislead college kids, who don’t have much money in the first place.”

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    Chris ReffieldOct 4, 2023 at 10:21 pm

    Monetary Marketing is paying the club a it of what it gets from these kids as they are held hostage by the fine print. All the Jeff’s are getting a piece too.. DON’T TELL ME THE CLUB DON’T KNOW.!