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Valley City State prof faces ID theft charges after police seize 200 credit cards

VALLEY CITY -- An assistant professor at Valley City State University was arrested after more than 200 credit and gift cards were discovered in his apartment, Valley City police said.

VALLEY CITY -- An assistant professor at Valley City State University was arrested after more than 200 credit and gift cards were discovered in his apartment, Valley City police said.

Long Man Ram Lau, 33, who teaches economics, could face charges of possession of stolen property and unauthorized use of personal information. He was booked into the Barnes County Jail on Tuesday, March 22.

VCSU placed Lau on administrative leave and banned him from using the school's computers or networks, VCSU President Tisa Mason said in a campuswide email.

Lau joined the faculty in fall 2012.

"Because of the nature of the charges, I recommend that you monitor your financial statements regularly for any unfamiliar activity and report any irregularities to appropriate authorities immediately," Mason said in the email.

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Lau, who is in the U.S. legally on a visa from China, is now under investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Valley City Police Chief Fred Thompson said. The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security are also investigating.

Thompson said in a statement that along with the cards, police seized computers, electronic storage devices, suspected counterfeit merchandise, medicines and financial paperwork from Lau's apartment, as well as more credit and gift cards, computers and electronic storage devices from the professor's university office.

Police are putting together a list of names and numbers of people who may have been affected, Thompson said. A forensic examination of all the evidence will take months.

"I would say that he probably was being profitable. How much that was, I have no idea," Thompson said in an interview. "Again, we have stacks of financial records that have to be gone through."

The investigation began when police received photos from an anonymous tipster, who noticed a large number of credit cards, bearing various names, in a residence at 324 6th Ave. SW, Apartment 4, in Valley City, Thompson said.

Based on the photos, police contacted a victim, who reported having been informed by her credit card company that a new card had been issued in her name, Thompson said.

The victim then checked her credit score and noticed "irregularities" and contacted Fargo police to file a report.

Thompson said police will work to "locate and contact all of the individuals on the various media" and that Lau could face more charges.

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Lau also works for Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, university spokesman Dennis O'Shea confirmed. Lau is classified as a "casual employee," meaning he is less than full time.

"Lau has been employed as an online-education instructor in the university's program for academically talented pre-college students," O'Shea said in an email.

O'Shea declined to say if Lau's arrest would affect his status at Johns Hopkins.

Lau graduated from Johns Hopkins with advanced degrees in finance and economics.

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