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Team of Women Takes Down Serial Romance Scammer, Part 1

Linda meets her dream man on a dating site, but soon receives a troubling message from another woman

spinner image A team of women takes down a serial romance scammer.
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spinner image graphic quote that reads 'I felt like someone hit me in the face with a brick. You're starting to make a life with someone, and all of a sudden you find out everything about him was made up. It was absolutely insane.'
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Full Transcript

(MUSIC INTRO)

[00:00:01] Bob: This week on The Perfect Scam.

[00:00:03] Bob: If you had to come up with a number, I mean if you tried to even hazard a guess how many women he did this to?

[00:00:09] At least 400.

[00:00:11] (newsclip) He was a doctor, a lawyer, a Navy Seal, and investment banker, a firefighter...

(MUSIC SEGUE)

[00:00:19] Bob: Welcome back the Perfect Scam, I’m your host Bob Sullivan. More than 1.3 billion dollars. That's how much the Federal Trade Commission says romance scam victims reported stolen just in 2022. According to the FBI, reported annual romance scam losses are triple what they were just 5 years ago. And that's just what's reported. Romance scams rob victims of money, but often so much more is taken. Faith, love, trust. The trail of heartache left behind by the criminals is hard to describe. We've heard a lot of romance scam stories here at The Perfect Scam, but today's story, well it's remarkable in its scale and in the trail of tears left behind by the perpetrator. A perpetrator who probably would still be out there breaking hearts and emptying bank accounts if it weren't for a band of women who got together and said, enough. Today's story is about how far a determined liar will go to get what they want, and how, when victims speak out, the truth eventually wins out.

[00:01:31] I was in the middle of a messy divorce. I was the Engineering Manager at a nuclear power plant in Minnesota, so I had a great career, messy divorce, 6-year-old son who needed a lot of my attention, and at a friend's recommendation got on a website called, it was for, for older people looking for relationships.

[00:01:52] Bob: That's Linda Dyas. A single mom, a veteran, the daughter of a veteran, and a very accomplished woman who went online looking for love a few years ago.

[00:02:02] Linda Dyas: I was in the US Navy and, and that part of my life was very formative for me. I was kind of um, zigging and zagging, going to college, but not really going, really didn't care much, and, and then my dad got cancer, and he had been in the Navy, and so I was worried that he was going to die, of course. I was worried that, that he was worried I didn't have like a path in life. And so the Navy filled that path, gave me a roof over my head, a direction in life, and also I think it eased my dad's mind a lot. He did not die from kidney cancer. He ended up living to be 86 years old. So it was a great ending to a lot of stories. You know he, he'd recovered very well, lived another 30 years and I, I got a great direction in life from the military.

[00:02:53] Bob: She served her country in a variety of places during her time.

[00:02:57] Linda Dyas: Well, I started out in uh Virginia Beach, and then my last duty station was Jacksonville, Florida. And that's where I ended up staying and finishing my college degree was in Jacksonville, Florida. Um, I was air crew on P-3 Orions. We tracked submarines around the time that the Wall fell, and that Russia sold off all their submarines.

[00:03:19] Bob: Wow.

[00:03:14] Linda Dyas: So it was a very interesting time.

[00:03:21] Bob: I'm sure. Were you stateside almost the whole time?

[00:03:22] Linda Dyas: I was, yes, I was in Iceland some and Puerto Rico some, but mostly stateside.

[00:03:27] Bob: After the service she married and started a family and lived in Woodbury, Minnesota, a large suburb outside Minneapolis where she found herself single again in her 40s and posting a profile online, and a man named Rich Peterson catches her eye.

[00:03:45] Linda Dyas: The ad wasn't perfect, which is, you know, he, he just had a couple pictures, him with a dog. He had a great smile and he just said let's meet for coffee, see, that, that seemed so innocent and nonaggressive I guess, so a coffee date, what's the big deal with that?

[00:04:03] Bob: So they do meet for coffee and well, it's a surprise. A pleasant surprise.

[00:04:10] Linda Dyas: I remember he was wearing a leather jacket that was very stylish, not like a motorcycle bike, but more like Armani kind of jacket. And he was dressed to the nines, he looked really nice. He had his aviation glasses on, we hit it off, and he had a great big smile. And he said he was reservist in the Navy, officer, and he was working on his PhD in political science. Which is really interesting because education is also very important to me. My dad had a PhD, my brother has his PhD, and my mom was a teacher, my sister's a teacher. As soon as we met, you know, he was nice. He was charismatic, just very attentive and interested in what I had to say, and interesting to talk to.

[00:05:01] Bob: So Linda leaves that first date intrigued. Well, more than intrigued.

[00:05:07] Linda Dyas: Yeah, I pro--, I probably sent my best friend in Texas a text message saying, "This guy's really great. He seems..." and I probably said a million times, "He seems too good to be true."

[00:05:18] Bob: Not long before Linda gets home, the texting continues with this new intriguing man.

[00:05:25] Linda Dyas: We texted and talked quite a bit, and then he wanted to take me on what he called a real date. And he showed up at my house with an Uber driver and flowers, and he wanted to have wine is why he said he brought, he, he rode with an Uber driver to pick me up. But flowers and a big hug, and we went to a really nice restaurant, had a bottle of wine. He stopped when we got our food, and held my hand and said a prayer at the dinner table, and we just talked for, for hours. We were the last people in the restaurant. They kinda kicked us out, let, we were in a little town, Lake Elmo, which is a ritzy kind of small town close to Woodbury, and so there was a little, a little bar kind of kitty-corner across the way and we walked down the street and went to the bar and had another drink, and probably talked for another couple of hours. Like I said, he was just very interesting to talk to.

[00:06:25] Bob: But he stopped in the middle of a restaurant and you guys said, uh, said grace before meal, right?

[00:06:30] Linda Dyas: Yes.

[00:06:32] Bob: What did that mean to you?

[00:06:33] Linda Dyas: That meant a ton to me. . I grew up Christian. I grew up in Texas. Minnesota guys aren't exactly the same gentlemen that I'm used to in Texas. And maybe it's just the times have changed, you know, and it's been a long time since I've dated, but I'm, I grew up being used to the prayer and the guys holding the door open and picking you up at your house and all the romantic stuff. You know, if a guy honked at my house, my dad wasn't letting me out of the house.

[00:07:01] Bob: (chuckles)

[00:07:03] Linda Dyas: So, so yeah, it was very important to me.

[00:07:07] Bob: And that must have been incredibly refreshing for you.

[00:07:11] Linda Dyas: It was. It was endearing and refreshing and sweet. I was kind of blown away.

[00:07:18] Bob: So blown away that their relationship takes off like a rocketship.

[00:07:24] Bob: How soon did things move to the next level?

[00:07:26] Linda Dyas: Fast, probably too fast for me typically. Um, about 6 weeks and he was at my house all the time. He hadn't moved in or anything, but he was there quite a bit. And about that time was when my son's 7th birthday was, and my parents came to visit, and my mom just loved him. He would sit and talk to her forever, which an older lady you know she was probably 79, 78 at the time. And here's this younger man, very charismatic and willing to sit and listen to her and talk to her. She just thought he was the greatest.

[00:08:03] Bob: And it isn't just mom. Both Linda's parents take a liking to him right away. Rich and Linda's dad start stopping war stories pretty quickly, well all three vets did.

[00:08:16] Linda Dyas: Yeah, my dad was in back during Korea so, so it was a little bit different back then. But yeah, we did, we did. They talked a few stories and, and I jumped, chimed in every once in a while. But you know my military time was a long time ago. So and my dad's was a long time ago, so he was really the only one telling the stories. ... And they were doozies.

[00:08:37] Bob: And not long after Linda discovers on her own that Rich is apparently working to connect with the rest of the family too. One day she stumbles on some forms that revealed Rich has started a college savings account for her son.

[00:08:53] Linda Dyas: And I thought, oh, how sweet.

[00:08:55] Bob: So with connections to every member of the family secure, it doesn't seem so out of place when Rich suggests they move in together.

[00:09:05] Linda Dyas: So I was renting a place in Woodbury and looking for a house to buy, and he had a place in the Cities and thought, well let's just buy a place together. At the time it was whirlwind; here's this romantic guy, and he wants to buy a house with me. And I don't know, I just thought why not? You know, 46, I'm no spring chicken, it's not like I want to get married and have babies, but he's a, he was a great guy. So we started looking for places together.

[00:09:42] Bob: And this was six months in? Not even?

[00:09:45] Linda Dyas: Hmm, three, three and a half maybe. We moved into a place, and he took care of everything. I wasn't involved in the sale at all, so he bought a house. And it was a great house. Got all my stuff moved in, got settled in, it had four bedrooms, Jackson loved it, my son loved the house. It was in Woodbury on a golf course in the, in the right school district. It was, it was a great house.

[00:10:13] Bob: Hardly half year has passed since that first coffee meeting, and the family has settled into their new home, new school. It is a fairy tale come true. Things are perfect. Well, not quite perfect.

[00:10:29] Linda Dyas: There were a few things that were really weird. You know, he would say he'd have to go do a reservist weekend, and I thought that was odd because well he would just disappear for a weekend. And he said that he was a Navy Seal. And he had all the uniforms and stuff, and he had, you know a duffle bag full of the awards and stuff. But those weekends seemed really odd, very hard to get a hold of him. Um, just kind of disappeared. Would send me a text saying, "I'll be back in a few days," kinda thing. And I thought that was odd.

[00:11:02] Bob: But the warm weather has finally arrived in the land of 10,000 lakes, and there are plenty of magical times to be had.

[00:11:10] Linda Dyas: It was summertime. Things were going well. All of a sudden he wanted to buy a boat. So next thing we know it's July, he bought a boat, he took my son and I to Hawaii on a pretty extravagant trip.

[00:11:24] Bob: But then there's an accident. A motorcycle accident. That's complicated for the new family.

[00:11:31] Linda Dyas: Said that he broke some bones and stuff. Well I'd, I sat around with him for a little bit in the hospital, but I had to get Jackson's homework done and get him ready for school, and I had to get to work, so I had a whole life going on as well. And he came back to the house and a few days later he really needed to go to the hospital again. And I was, he wanted to take my car and I um, I said, "No, no, no, I'll, I'll drive you."

[00:11:56] Bob: Rich keeps insisting that he drive himself to the hospital, but Linda won't hear of it, so finally he relents, and she drives them. But right about then Linda gets an unexpected ping from a stranger named Missi on Facebook. A stranger who says she has important information about Rich.

[00:12:18] Linda Dyas: And about that time is when Missi left me a message on Messenger, on, on Facebook Messenger. She didn't have a phone number for me.

[00:12:29] Bob: So after she gets away from Rich at the hospital, she opens up Facebook Messenger and it's a moment that she'll never forget. A moment that changes her whole family's life forever. The message from Missi says,...

[00:12:44] Linda Dyas: "I'm not crazy. Please read everything below, um, and open the attachment. I think this is the guy that you've been dating." And the attachment was pages and pages of his arrest records and photos.

[00:13:00] Bob: Wow. Pages and pages of his arrest records? Missi's message says she's also dating Rich. She says she began to suspect something was wrong, so she peeked in Rich's wallet and found a driver's license with the name Derek Alldred on it. And when Missi googled that name, she found all those arrest records, all those news stories. Derek Alldred had posed as a firefighter, as a surgeon. He'd dated a woman in California and stolen $200,000 from her. He checked into a hotel with another woman and her children, then ran out on the bill and the woman. Linda reads all this and doesn't know what to think.

[00:13:44] Bob: What was that like?

[00:13:46] Linda Dyas: I felt like someone hit me in the face with a brick. I, how do you, you know, you're starting to make a life with someone. You live in a house he just bought, um, and all of a sudden you find out he's not even the, the, his name is not even real. Everything about him was made up. I mean it was absolutely insane. And...

[00:14:16] Bob: Did it ring true to you at that moment or...

[00:14:18] Linda Dyas: Yes. It, it filled in some of the uneasiness I had, I had felt about a few things. Yeah, it, it rung true and, and I couldn't exactly place why I was so quick to believe, well I mean the pictures, the, everything was there.

[00:14:37] Bob: And there's something else to worry about. Missi had found Linda because when Missi looked in that wallet, she found other suspicious items inside. Linda's name was on a couple of credit cards that she found. It appears Rich had stolen Linda's identity. Linda's world is turned upside-down, virtually instantly.

[00:15:00] Linda Dyas: And so I called a friend of mine who worked for the Department of Corrections, and I asked him, "Is this real?" And he was floored, 'cause he had met him before. And he believed him. And yeah, it was all real.

[00:15:13] Bob: Now Linda is scared. She and her son are living with a criminal. What should she do? There is no easy answer.

[00:15:24] Linda Dyas: So I immediately called the police, told them what had happened, told them where he was and told them, I'm just trying to figure this out right now because I don't know what, I don't know what's going on. I just know he's a criminal and going by a different name, and we're living in the same house. And I'm scared. So the police said, "Well he's at the hospital." They wanted me to call them when he called for me to come pick him up. Well I waited and waited...

[00:16:00] Bob: Rich never calls. Instead...

[00:16:03] Linda Dyas: He texted me that he was in an Uber on the way to the house. And so I called the police quickly, and I, I mean I was scared he was going to get to the house before they showed up, but I saw the flashing lights out front, and they arrested him in front of the house. I didn't even go outside.

[00:16:21] Bob: Hardly one day has passed, and Linda has gone from a fairy tale life to the man she bought a house with getting arrested outside their home. She's barely had a chance to breathe when the next day police come to her home to take a statement.

[00:16:37] Linda Dyas: It was so bizarre. It was a, a tall detective, and a younger female detective; he seemed like he was in charge. And they were asking me questions, and while they were asking me questions the doorbell rang and there was a postman there, and it was a box for Rich Peterson from another female, not Missi, but a girl named Kim. And it was, um, they said, "Well open it. He's not even a real person." And so they opened the box, and it was some magazines and chocolates and a bottle of whiskey and a note that said, "Sorry you got hurt. I really look, look forward to getting to know you better."

[00:17:19] Bob: I look forward to getting to know you better?

[00:17:22] Linda Dyas: So this was his next victim, if you will, that was kind of on the hook.

[00:17:28] Bob: He was plotting his escape route.

[00:17:29] Linda Dyas: Yeah. I think he knew that I was suspicious or that I was really curious and probably going to figure it out. So I mean that was just a bizarre coincidence that, that the detectives were at the house when that happened.

[00:17:44] Bob: The police detectives take her statement and then have a look around the home where they find a small treasure trove of things that Rich has bought online, and Linda doesn't know about. Where did the money come from to buy them? Linda is starting to really worry about that, but she's got something else on her mind. Missi, the woman who sent her that first Facebook message, well they planned a meeting for later that day.

[00:18:09] Linda Dyas: We met over where he was keeping the boat.

[00:18:12] Bob: What was it like meet--, meeting her?

[00:18:13] Linda Dyas: It was bizarre. She and I both are Monster Energy drinkers, and it was funny. We both got out of our car and put our Monster Energy on top of our car, and we looked over at each other and we just started laughing. Other than that, she and I don't have a ton of stuff in common. You know, she's short, brunette, who was a flight attendant, and I'm a tall blonde who was an engineer. So you know the Monster Energy was our thing. (chuckling) It was, it was our connector.

[00:18:43] Bob: And they have a lot to connect over; the boat for one. At this point, Linda has started to look into her financial records and confirms there's more bad news.

[00:18:53] Linda Dyas: And what's crazy is the boat that he bought with my money; he told her bought it for her. And I guess she spent a lot of time on the boat. I was a Monday through Friday worker, and she was a flight attendant, so she was home during the week a lot, and so she had spent a lot of time on the boat. When I wasn't around and we, I mean he had it perfectly, you know, I was, the regular 9-5 kind of worker, getting up and leaving early in the morning and working all day, and she was home during the week.

[00:19:22] Bob: So she was the weekday girl, you were the weekend girl.

[00:19:25] Linda Dyas: Right.

[00:19:27] Bob: Hmm, wow.

[00:19:27] Linda Dyas: He had, he had it all figured out.

[00:19:29] Bob: He had it all figured out, but Linda is just coming to grips with figuring everything out. By then, just a few days later, Rich, well, Derek Alldred really, has already been let out of jail. Meanwhile, Linda's troubles start to mount.

[00:19:47] Linda Dyas: A couple of days after that, I got a call from the county sheriff, and they were looking for me. They wanted to arrest me for writing, for writing bad checks. Well the checks didn't even have my signature on them. He had stolen a checkbook which I never used checkbooks, or didn't at the time, but my bank sent them when you, you know, when you moved locations, they always sent me a box of checks. So yeah, that's something I don’t keep around anymore. But he had written a bunch of bad checks on different things to the marina, to, to a bunch of different places. But one of the checks he wrote that was actually accepted was when he registered the boat, he signed his fake name to my check at the DMV and they accepted it.

[00:20:41] Bob: And then they tried to arrest you for that?

[00:16:59] Linda Dyas: Yes. Yes, they did.

[00:20:44] Bob: Wow.

[00:20:45] Linda Dyas: And I said, really? Can I see your evidence, 'cause at this point I was, I was pissed. You know how you go from being like floored to emotional to everything else, and then I was just mad that I'm the one being screwed over here, and now you're going to arrest me too? So as soon as, as I showed them the signatures on there, where it's why didn't they look at them in the first place; he didn't even try to fake my name. He wrote his name on there.

[00:21:14] Bob: Hmm, wow.

[00:21:15] Linda Dyas: You know, you would think that an investigator would maybe look at it a little deeper.

[00:21:22] Bob: Well, and, and if I have the timeline in my head correct, didn't they let him out of jail two days after they arrested him?

[00:21:28] Linda Dyas: Yes, and...

[00:21:30] Bob: So, so by this point, they've let him out of jail and now someone is coming to arrest you.

[00:21:34] Linda Dyas: Right.

[00:21:36] Bob: That's incredible.

[00:21:38] Bob: As Linda keeps piecing together just how big a problem she has, the truth is even worse than she could have imagined.

[00:21:46] Linda Dyas: I had swapped my 401k to an IRA, at least I believed I had. And he had intercepted the mail and um, and it never actually went into the IRA. So he was spending my money, my retirement fund.

[00:22:01] Bob: He emptied your 401k.

[00:22:05] Linda Dyas: I had, I was moving it to an IRA and the bank things from Wells Fargo that came said that they needed one more signature and it would all be in the IRA account, 'cause it was my 401k from my previous job. And yeah, he emptied, he emptied it all um, very, very quickly. $225,000 just in the blink of an eye.

[00:22:28] Bob: Oh my God.

[00:22:30] Linda Dyas: Yeah. Yeah, so a lot of the stuff in the garage was stuff that he had purchased with my money, including the boat and the motorcycle that he wrecked, and, oh, a lawn tractor. I mean big ticket items, and then the trip to Hawaii, um, all of it was coming out of a money market that should have been in a, an IRA.

[00:22:57] Bob: Linda's problems aren't only financial, however. She has a child to worry about too.

[00:23:03] Linda Dyas: Oh, oh yeah. I mean tell a kid, you know try, try to explain that to I guess at the time he was 7, to a 7-year-old kid that this guy who'd been around all the time, who had been living there with us, was a fraud. I mean that word doesn't even exist to a kid. "What do you mean?" He was pretending. "That doesn't mean he can't come around, does it?" Well, yeah, he's not a good guy. I mean it was so hard to explain to a little kid who this person was without making him scared.

[00:23:37] Bob: Linda wants to make sure Derek is punished for his crime, but she's worried local police don't seem interested in pursuing a case.

[00:23:46] Linda Dyas: I probably called 200 times and with, between calls and emails to the county sheriff and to the detective. They never really did anything further with the investigation. I mean it was absolutely insane. Um, and I tried to call the FBI. I left messages on every phone number I could get a hold of for the FBI. Nobody ever talked to me. The sheriff actually of Washington County actually told me, "We have more important things. It's not like anyone got hurt."

[00:24:19] Bob: Oh, my God. It's not like anyone got hurt? They're ready to let it go, but Linda can't. She's determined to make sure that Rich pays for what he's done to her family.

[00:24:32] Linda Dyas: I, you know, part of me, I, I should have done more to get my credit and life and everything else back together, but um, this guy had been doing this for so long. Um, he had destroyed so many lives. And um, yeah, yeah, you know. Um, that was my whole life. That was everything I've worked for. And it just, it just blew me away that people didn't care, that I felt like nobody else cared so I had to. I couldn't let it happen again.

[00:25:11] Bob: She couldn't imagine sitting by and letting this happen again to someone else. So Linda starts to furiously research the dark past of Derek Alldred.

[00:25:22] Linda Dyas: And that's when I started investigating and pulled furniture out of one of the rooms so I could put stuff on the wall, like timelines and what had happened. And I wrote a bunch of stuff down, but that probably took a month to kind of shake me out of my gloom and doom and oh my God, what am I going to do? The "what am I going to do?" that was never harder to answer in my life. Like where do you go from here?

[00:25:48] Bob: Where do you go from here? Linda suspects, but doesn't know for sure yet, that Rich is out there doing this to other people again and again. Probably using other names. So she and Missi team up. Their research uncovers even more local news stories about Derek Alldred and his frauds, but most victims use fake names in those stories, so they're hard to find. But the pair do track down one long-time victim in San Francisco, Cindy Pardinni. And they join forces with her too. Cindy has been tracking Derek Alldred since they dated three years earlier. Leads do pop up occasionally, but Derek seems to slip away just as quickly as he appears.

[00:26:33] Linda Dyas: He'd gotten arrested in Arizona, and was supposed to be arraigned on December 5th, and his mother, who was in her 90s, bailed him out for Thanksgiving, and he ran. So, so yeah, he met a girl in Vegas, traded her car in, and they let him, and drove it to Texas.

[00:26:59] Bob: Right about then as Alldred is skipping out on yet another local charge, a reported named Rachel Monroe at the magazine, The Atlantic, takes notice of some of this local TV coverage, and she's interested in putting together all the pieces. She's about to take the Derek Alldred story national. That's the only way for people to really understand the depth of Derek Alldred crimes. Rachel has made a career out piercing illusions.

[00:27:30] Rachel Monroe: Ooh, I mean, you know, I think I like to think of myself as like a pretty mild-mannered person. So maybe it's like the, the extreme parts of my psyche gets to work themselves out through my work, you know, through delving into the minds of, of people who lead more extreme lives or exhibit more extreme behaviors, you know, sometimes it resulting in crime, sometimes not. It's just, it's really interesting just to learn about how many different ways human beings can be in the world, you know.

[00:28:03] Bob: Hmm, and, and, and test their limits. I mean it's not just crime. I was reading about the guy who claims he'll be able to live till he's 180 because he puts butter in his coffee. Or, I know it's more than that, um, but these, these are such extreme personalities.

[00:28:16] Rachel Monroe: Yeah, I like extreme personalities, and I'm also really interested in, in kind of, for that one I think delusions, or these illusions maybe is the nicer way of putting it that, that people use to kind of sustain themselves through the world and what happens when those illusions get punctured by reality. I mean I've written about essential oil multilevel marketing companies, I've written about yea, biohacking; this guy wants to live to 180. I've written about a, a man who's like a very prolific sperm donor who has, you know, a hundred kids and counting. All sorts of subjects.

[00:28:49] Bob: Rachel had decided she wanted to do a story about the dramatic rise in romance scams. She has a personal reason for that.

[00:28:58] Rachel Monroe: I had, actually a family member of mine with kind of entrapped in a situation somewhat similar to this, and I think it was like super destabilizing for her. And for me kind of a, a wakeup call just of how widespread this kind of fraud is, and also how I think it's very common for people to think, you know, that's the kind of thing that happens to other people and, and maybe, maybe part of that is like, that's the kind of thing, you know I would never fall for that, I'm too savvy. And, and knowing this relative of mine and like how brilliant and accomplished and beautiful and on top of things she is in like seeing how well this worked on her, I was like, oh, I don't understand how this stuff works as well as I think that I do. And so I just kind of had my eyes out looking for a, a case that would kind of illustrate how, how these cons work and the impact that they have on people. And came across Derek Alldred...

[00:30:01] Bob: By the time Rachel starts poking around the story, Alldred had made his way to Texas. And while Linda and the other women have a lead on where he is, maybe even who he's dating, they're worried he might just being the cycle again.

[00:30:17] Rachel Monroe: Right, exactly. And he would, you know, he would skip out on court cases. He would, he's, he's charming and well-spoken so the, the judge would let him out on bail and then he'd, he'd be long gone. I mean there are just so many instances like that where he would be, he would be in custody one day and then gone within 48 hours, which I think for these women was a really kind of frustrating. I mean part of the reason he'd been able to get away with this stuff for so long is he would hop from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and the crimes, you know, taken maybe on an individual basis, like didn't, didn't seem that bad or you know the women often felt like that law enforcement wasn't taking them seriously, you know. Identify theft here, some credit card fraud here, bounced checks there, you know it didn't, it didn't seem individually like it was all that awful, and then it was only when you looked at sort of this, this pattern of him doing this over you know, decades to many, many people, and, and added it all up, the enormity of it became clear.

[00:31:17] Bob: So that's what Rachel sets out to do, to explain the enormity of the crime. She understands why Linda ended up moving all the furniture out of one room to make room for her investigation and why Linda spent all that time trying to connect the dots.

[00:31:35] Rachel Monroe: It's really confusing. You need one of those kind of like bulletin boards with all the like a crazy person pictures and thread and stuff. Even that's like many, make any kind of sense of it.

[00:31:45] Bob: Rachel had identified a few of Alldred's victims by then, but she had a big problem. She had to get the women to talk. People who've been victimized by a romance scam often feel shame and don't want to go public with their stories.

[00:32:00] Rachel Monroe: Well, you know, I reached to a number of the women. Um, a lot of them in the, in the great reporting that had been done locally had gone by pseudonyms or first names only, so tracking them down was tricky, and then kind of reaching out to them. Like I said, they were, a number of them are super wary about talking because they had, they were just nervous about how victims of romantic scams like this get portrayed, you know, as kind of pathetic or gullible, or foolish or naive or you know, tragic, and, and they all felt very clearly, you know, like that's not my story, that's not how I see myself. That kind of depiction is, you know, part of what blocks me from coming forward in the first place. And so they were very, getting them to talk to me took a lot of conversations in sort of overcoming the hesitancy. And I think with Linda, you know, it wasn't until I had to basically like be like, look, I'm getting on a plane. I'm there tomorrow, or it might have even been after I landed where I was like, "Look, I'm in Minnesota. I have nothing else to do." Like, "Please can I come talk to you," that she finally was like, okay. And then we went and got a pedicure which I think helped uh cement the, the journalistic source relationship.

[00:33:15] Bob: (laughs) That makes a lot of sense. Well what was your firs impression of her when you met her?

[00:33:20] Rachel Moore: You know she's tall like me, so I always feel like a kinship with a, with another tall lady. And very, she has like a lot of, a lot of charisma and a lot of force to her, you know, like you wouldn't, you wouldn't look at her and ever think, you know, this is, this person is naive, you know, this person is weak, nothing like that. I mean she's just a sort of like a force of nature. You, you kind of feel her presence in a room. She's daughter of a veteran and that's like a big part of her family and her sense of herself.

[00:33:52] Bob: Okay, so when you, you meet Linda, she confides to you with a lot of these details, um, what does she want at that point?

[00:33:59] Rachel Monroe: At that point I think she really wanted to make sure that, she wanted a couple of things. She wanted her story to be told in a way that, again like honored her and the other women who she had met a number of them, or at least spoken to many of them I think at that point, that honored just who they were and, and portrayed them as the, as the kind of strong women that they were and not, not the victims that they were sort of worried that people saw them as. I think there had been like a, a local TV segment that, that had been pretty insulting. And then also, they wanted, they thought she and the other women that I spoke to were hoping that more attention on the case showing how this fraud, you know, was perpetrated over, across many states over many years, could help build the case for a more serious charge.

[00:34:55] Bob: But by then, there's another factor which has helped draw attention to Linda's story. Derek Alldred has lied about a lot of things, but he made the mistake of lying about his military record. He had never served in the military, and certainly never earned any medals. And the Naval Criminal Investigative Service takes the crime of stolen valor very, very seriously.

[00:35:22] Linda Dyas: Finally, an NCIS investigator heard the story and called me. And she drove out from Chicago, 'cause there's not an NCIS office in, in Minnesota. And I will tell you, she was one of those people that didn't seem like she believed a word I was saying. Like this is the most incredible story. And when, the second day when I came back and brought her the boxes of uniforms and awards and shoes and covers and everything else, she was like, "You're kidding." And I said, "I just don't want anyone else to have these." And she goes, "No, I, I will get these to the main office."

[00:36:05] Bob: Two women in Minnesota, another in California, an NCIS investigator in Chicago, a reporter in Texas, all hunting for a man who's stolen hearts and money across the country from dozens, perhaps hundreds of women. Will Derek Alldred ever really face consequences for his crimes? That's next week on The Perfect Scam.

(MUSIC OUTRO)

[00:36:33] Bob: If you have been targeted by a scam or fraud, you are not alone. Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360. Their trained fraud specialists can provide you with free support and guidance on what to do next. Thank you to our team of scambusters; Associate Producer, Annalea Embree; Researcher, Sarah Binney; Executive Producer, Julie Getz; and our Audio Engineer and Sound Designer, Julio Gonzalez. Be sure to find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. For AARP's The Perfect Scam, I'm Bob Sullivan.

 

END OF TRANSCRIPT

After her divorce, Linda decides to take a chance on online dating. She’s pleasantly surprised to make an instant connection with a man named Rich. He’s handsome, charismatic and has an impressive résumé — a Navy reservist working on his PhD. The relationship progresses quickly, with Linda and her young son moving into Rich’s new house. One day Linda receives a troubling message from a woman name Missi who claims to also be dating Rich. Linda discovers that he’s been lying to them both. His real name is Derek Alldred and he has a criminal record a mile long, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from numerous women. Linda and Missi decide they have to do something to keep this serial romance scammer from finding his next target.

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