Television reporter Lauren Leamanczyk remembers having a distinct first impression of the women who had been conned by serial romance scammer Derek Alldred.
"These were two smart women," Leamanczyk said of her meeting with Minnesota women Linda Dyas and Missi Brandt. "Their fear was that everyone would think of them as these stupid women. 'How could you fall for that?' These are women who had their lives together until they met Derek Alldred."
Dyas, a nuclear scientist, and Brandt, a former flight attendant, both met Alldred in 2016 on OurTime.com, a dating site for mature relationships. He told them his name was "Richard Peterson," and that he was Navy reservist finishing up his PhD in political scientist at a local university. He built up his alias with complete military uniforms, medals, and certificates, including fraudulent Purple Heart and SEAL team training paperwork.
[Photo: Courtesty of Efran Films]
Leamanczyk told producers of "Seduced By Evil," a 90-minute special chronicling Alldred's cons and the women he scammed, that shortly after interviewing Dyas and Brandt, she spoke with schoolteacher JoAnn Venhuizen. Alldred had defrauded Venhuizen in 2014 after connecting with him on Match.com.
Going by the name "Derek Allarad," Alldred said he was an international banking lawyer. At one point during their relationship, Venhuizen called his supposed law office, and a secretary answered the phone for attorney "Derek R. Allarad." He also made up fake business cards with his name and title.
"It was a story that I felt very personally about because I could put myself or so many of my friends in their shoes," explained Leamanczyk.
Once Leamanczyk put the story together for KARE 11 TV, she said there was a "big reaction online," which allowed even more of Alldred's female victims to come forward.
"This entire online community of women who felt that they had been wronged by Derek Alldred, lied to by Derek Alldred, and became pretty determined to take him down," Leamanczyk recounted.
Though many of the women had lost tens — in some cases hundreds — of thousands of dollars, Leamanczyk said they were able to regain their power by banding together to take down Alldred. Ultimately, Alldred was sentenced to 24 years in prison for one count of mail fraud and two counts of aggravated identity fraud, according to the Star Tribune.
To learn more about how Alldred was finally brought to justice, watch "Seduced By Evil" on Oxygen.
[Photo: "Seduced By Evil" Screengrab]
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