What we know about Sarah Ferrell, the fake UNC student who tried to get into Granville
Update 11:25 a.m.: As rumors have spread about Sarah Ferrell and other instagram accounts being linked to a sex-trafficking ring, North Carolina State University Police released a statement saying these allegations have not been substantiated.
"We were able to determine neither of the individuals identified in the original social media posts were involved in an criminal activity at N.C. State," the statement said.
At 3:01 p.m. on Sept. 25, an individual named Sarah Ferrell posing as a UNC-Chapel Hill student was issued a warning of trespass by campus police after allegedly lying to Granville Towers residents to gain entry to the building multiple times.
The warning was issued after Colin Warner, Granville Towers community director, told Granville Towers residential advisers and residents to call 911 if they encountered the individual after receiving multiple reports from residents.
“Sarah Ferrell has posed as a UNC student through social media, and sends messages to residents to gain access to their residence halls and personal information, including class schedules,” Warner said in an email obtained by The Daily Tar Heel. “Sarah Ferrell is not a UNC student. If you encounter Ms. Ferrell, please call 911 so UNCPD can work to issue a trespass order, and your RA on call.”
The Daily Tar Heel obtained a copy of the incident report from campus officials. Randy Young, media relations manager for UNC Public Safety, provided more details on the incident Tuesday afternoon.
“Police were made aware of the situation and investigated,” Young said in an email. “They met with the person in question this afternoon and she was issued a ‘Warning of Trespass’ from the UNC-Chapel Hill Campus.”
No Alert Carolina message was sent out about the warning issued or the search for Ferrell. Young said because there was no immediate threat to campus, an Alert Carolina message was not necessary.
North Carolina State University also received reports of Ferrell posing as a student on campus. The N.C. State University Police Department released a BOLO (be on the lookout) on Tuesday about the individual.
“On 9/25/2018, this person (Sarah Elizabeth Ferrell) was reported to have engaged in suspicious behavior to include her posing as an NCSU and UNC-Chapel Hill student and attempting to access residence halls,” the notice said. "She is not affiliated with either university."
Ian Kendrick, spokesperson for the N.C. State Police Department, said no Wolfalert was issued in the search for Ferrell because it did not meet the department’s requirements.
“We look at each instance individually, and we evaluate it for validity and whether or not it’s an ongoing or continuing threat to campus,” Kendrick said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.
UNC first-year Taylor Rabon said Ferrell sent her an Instagram direct message shortly after Rabon moved into Granville Towers.
“She started out with like, ‘Hi, I’m new and I’m looking to meet new people and make friends and stuff,’” Rabon said. “It was was one of the first weeks of classes so she was like everyone else trying to make friends.”
Rabon said she never suspected Ferrell was not a UNC student, however, and did not find her questions too out of the ordinary.
“After she asked me, ‘Have you been to any parties?’ I was like, ‘That’s kind of weird,’ and just didn’t reply,” Rabon said.
Rabon said her residential adviser sent a text to her floor warning about someone posing as a student.
“I had heard about that there was someone trying to get into Granville, but I didn’t know that it was her,” Rabon said.
First-year Claire Hyde said she met Ferrell through a mutual friend who was contacted through social media while moving into Granville Towers. Hyde said Ferrell showed up to dinner one evening and began hanging out with her friend group.
“She said all those things, like that she was a UNC student and that she lived in Granville,” she said. “She told us that she was in the West Tower, but also said she was in the East Tower, and that’s what first made us really sketch out.”
She also said Ferrell claimed to be a Morehead-Cain scholar. Hyde was surprised because she is a Morehead-Cain scholar and had not seen Ferrell at any events.
“She said she was from Chapel Hill so her parents liked to hang out in her room,” Hyde said. “We were like, ‘What parent would want to hang out in a dorm room? Obviously she doesn’t go here.'”
Hyde said Ferrell became suspicious and stopped coming around after her friend group began asking more questions about Ferrell and her schedule.
"As a reminder, students are urged to use caution when sharing personal information," Young said. "They're also advised not to grant anyone access to residence halls other than themselves and invited guests."