She was living with her preteen daughters in the suburbs of St. Paul, Minnesota, and working as a flight attendant. She broke it off with him but stayed friendly.
The perfect man who wasn’t
It got to feel as if every text from him was an announcement of some new disaster: He had to check his daughter Sarah into rehab; he had to put his beloved shih tzu, Thumper, to sleep. When she finally did meet him in person, her relief was even more profound. By the spring ofMissi Brandt had emerged from a rough few years with a new sense of solidity.
At 10 p. Cindi added Linda to a group text with several other victims, and Linda found some comfort in swapping stories with them, and in seeing that they were far from stupid. Check out the full table of contents and find your next story to read. The country was rapidly urbanizing; ly far-flung places were newly linked by railro. Linda herself was an engineer at a nuclear-power plant.
Dear therapist: i was the other woman
That would be crazy. He found them a house to rent in an upscale suburb of St. Recently, though, the relationship had been rockier. He had hour-long phone conversations—ostensibly with his admiral, his faculty supervisor, or his daughter Sarah, three people who turned out not to exist—during which Linda could hear a voice on the other end of the line.
They talked about their kids he had two; she had threetheir divorces, their sobriety.
Rich drank a lot, and his constant trips to the hospital—which he blamed on the persistent effects of his war wounds—were exhausting. Cindi was in touch with one of his earliest victims, a woman who had met Derek in the early s and had been convinced that he was a medical student conducting important cystic-fibrosis research. The women later found out that he had actually been living at the shelter before he moved in with Linda.
Richie told her he was on vacation in Hawaii, but they planned to meet up as soon as he got back. T he police released Derek after 48 hours, telling Linda they wanted to build a stronger case. Joy decided to give him another chance.
He would FaceTime the women from UM classrooms between classes.
What it’s like to be a leftover woman
He had uniforms and medals and Atlantic stack of framed, official-looking awards: a Purple Heart and a Silver Star, a seal Team One membership, a certificate of completion for a naval underwater-demolition course. It took a bit of husbands work, but eventually Their tracked Linda down on Facebook and sent her a message. I bought a boat and took my sister and her kids out on it todayhe wrote. When, a couple of days later, she finally opened the brides Missi had sent, she realized why. He was always canceling plans, or not showing up when he was supposed to.
Maybe he could put her and the girls on his university insurance. Derek stands out for how remarkably prolific he was: He often had two or three separate relationship scams going at a time. When Missi googled Derek Alldredhalf a dozen mug shots of Richie—Derek—popped up, alongside news articles with alarming phrases such as career con man and long history of deception. Missi felt a wave of relief, both that Richie was okay and that her suspicions were unwarranted. At three in the morning, Derek told her he would catch an Uber home, and Linda alerted the police.
Richie had a taste for nice things—expensive restaurants, four-star hotels—and he always insisted on paying. At 45, she was three years sober and on the leeward side of a foreign divorce. The wallet also contained a couple of credit cards belonging to someone named Linda. When she reported him to the police, she was told that legal action would likely be a waste of her time and money. Among all the duds—the desperate and depressed and not-quite-divorced—a year-old man named Richie Peterson stood out.
Chris sent Missi a picture of Richie in a hospital bed, looking a little banged up but grinning gamely for the camera. He was a career naval officer, an Afghanistan veteran who was finishing his doctorate in political science at the University of Minnesota. Americans were meeting more strangers than ever before, and thanks to a growing economy, they had more money than generations.
On their first date, after the server meeting down their plates, Rich closed his eyes and said a beautiful prayer.
The longer they kept dating, though, the more problems cropped up. The false life that Derek—it was still hard not to slip and call him Rich—had constructed for himself was thorough: He had a University of Minnesota address and an ID card that allowed him to swipe into university buildings. A woman named Cindi Pardini, however, had used her full name. The second daughter, Sarah, was a fabrication. He told her he was a lawyer with a big downtown firm; in reality, he was hiding out from a warrant for defrauding the Saint Paul Hotel.
Most of the women quoted were anonymous, or referred to only by their first name. He solved that problem for her, announcing that he was once again in so much pain, he needed to go to the emergency room. A tech professional living in San Francisco, she said Derek had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars andairline miles from her over the course of a few months in She was in touch with about a dozen victims. Derek Alldred had married a woman, pretended to pay the bills on their home, then vanished after it was foreclosed on. She sat up for hours. My life has calmed down, want to try again?
Missi sat in her living room, alternately furious at him for letting her down and at herself for getting her hopes up enough to be let down. Paul over the summer.
Richie was tall and charming, a good talker and a good listener who seemed eager for a relationship. Richie mentioned that his cousin Vicki worked for the same airline as Missi. Plus, dating him was fun.
While Linda sorted through her finances, her sister-in-law delved into old news articles about Derek, looking for any information that might be useful in bringing him to justice. Of those, more than 14, were for relationship fraud, a that has more than doubled since After weeks or months of intimate s, texts, and phone calls, the putative boyfriend will urgently need money to replace a broken laptop or buy a plane ticket home.
The girls liked him, and so did the dog. Linda dropped him off and then called the police on her way home.
What it’s like to finally meet after dating online for months
Missi sat down on the couch and slowly read every word of every article she could find: Derek Alldred had posed as a firefighter and scammed hospitals out of drugs. Richie leaped into provider mode. A mericans love a con man. Missi felt ready for a serious relationship again, so she made a profile on OurTime. Richie had lingering medical problems from his time in the service, and Missi was constantly having to drop him off at or pick him up from the hospital.
The age of the internet, with its infinitude of strangers and swiftly evolving social mores, has also been good for con men. If anything, Derek seems to have preferred intelligent women; his victims included a doctor and a couple of women who worked in tech.
By then he was long gone. When Missi got fed up— Why did I get out of a crappy marriage just to be in this crappy relationship? On the Fourth of July, he sent her a picture of himself looking tan and happy, his arms around Missi and her kids on the boat that Linda had paid for.
Con men thrive in times of upheaval. After a few months, Linda lost her job with a financial-services company, but Rich made it seem okay. When she saw the red-and-blue lights through her window, she sent Missi a message, letting her know that Derek was in custody. Linda handled the package gingerly; it felt like a missive from an alternate reality.
It was touching. A few months into their relationship, she missed a shift at work and got fired. Missi thought it was a fun coincidence. And she talked with one of his childhood friends, who said that Derek, who had grown up in a wealthy suburb of San Francisco, was trouble from an early age. As she read, Missi began to feel sick, as if her body was having trouble physically assimilating the idea that her boyfriend was not a scholar and war hero, but rather a serial con man.