At least four sororities at the University of Iowa were duped by a man claiming to be a self-defense instructor, the Daily Iowan reports. The man, who called himself David Portnoy or David Parker, held self-defense demonstrations for hundreds of students for free but used the presentations to sell pepper spray to students for $18 a pop or $30 for three.
He claimed to be associated with Women's Safety Education Group, a Washington-based organization offering women's safety seminars, but the group has put a disclaimer on its site saying it had received complaints about a man and that he was not affiliated with the group.
In his presentations, the man talked at length about the history of the organization and his involvement with it and then spent another large portion of the hour pitching the pepper spray. He claimed he was a third-degree black belt and was described as "overweight and slightly balding."
"I kind of smelled a rat when he came," said one sorority member. "I thought it was strange he showed up without any pamphlets, business cards, or contact information."