Vanessa was a young student at the University of California, Los Angeles in the early 90s when she met a handsome man who swept her off her feet. What started out off as a romance story of the ages ended in what is now a familiar story: that of the con man, Derek Alldred, who was recently sentenced to 24 years in prison for mail fraud and identity theft.
Derek Alldred, the subject of the documentary “Seduced by Evil” premiering on Oxygen on Saturday, February 9 at 8/7c, has conned at least 27 women, wooing them with promises of love and partnership, only to leave many of them financially devastated.
His very first victim, as far as we know, was Vanessa.
She met the scammer on UCLA campus; Alldred was wearing a white lab coat with his name embroidered under “UCLA Health.” He seemed legitimate — and not to mention, he had a “really great smile.”
“He was very romantic in his gestures, flowers, cards, lots of hugging, whatnot,” said Vanessa. She introduced Alldred to her family, who highly approved of him.
And Vanessa fell in love with him, the vision of the perfect mate.
“Derek was tall and handsome, and he had a great smile and charismatic — it's like he was everything I wanted in a guy,” said Vanessa in this interview with Benita Alexander, executive producer of “Seduced by Evil.” Alldred’s politeness even won over Vanessa’s “hugely critical” father.
But things started to unravel around a year after they started dating, when Vanessa had begun spending more time at Alldred’s Westwood apartment. Alldred didn’t have a lot of furniture—and Vanessa’s family helped out, giving him some expensive, antique items.
One day, Vanessa walked up to his apartment and saw him throwing furniture — family heirlooms — out of the second-story window. He was clad in the white lab coat.
“He just kept doing it and doing it,” recalled Vanessa, who identified his profile and the back of his head. “And I said, my god, what is going on?”
Alldred filed a police report saying that someone broke into his apartment to wreak the damage — also stealing his lab coat.
“But I knew in my heart of hearts that it was him, because I saw him with my own eyes,” said Vanessa. “That was the moment that I knew something was wrong with him.”
Vanessa didn’t speak to the police because she was scared.
“I trusted him, and so when I saw that coming down, it was like all that trust just shattered.”
Alldred wasn’t just good at conning women in love with him, but others tangentially related to his concocted stories. Vanessa remembered how Alldred, who had plans of marriage with her, was a known person in the waiting room of the children’s hospital where he was supposedly researching cystic fibrosis. “He was able to create the persona for everyone… all of the people within the infrastructure he was manipulating.”
Vanessa says that Alldred was a natural at being something he wasn’t.
“Derek was born a con man.”
The loss that hurts the most was a gold bracelet of sentimental value — one created from Vanessa’s late mother’s gold jewelry. Alldred had stolen it, knowing well how much it meant to Vanessa.
Alldred just left town after the furniture episode, purportedly to visit his parents for a month. He promised to come back and pay Vanessa back some of his debts to her.
He never returned.
Vanessa didn’t know about what he would go on to do until six or seven years ago, when she Googled him only to find mugshots and a social media trail leading her to women who had been similarly duped. She didn’t realize how much of a fraud he was until then.
Vanessa, who describes her childhood as “sheltered,” said that Derek changed who she was.
“Derek tainted me. He jinxed me. And as much as he broke me, I feel that he made me a more brave person, in the sense that I don't want to hide, I want to fight.”
She added, “I want to fight for what's right.”
“Seduced by Evil” follows the story of women once scammed by Alldred who banded together to take him down. Watch it on Oxygen on Saturday, February 9, 8/7c.
[Photo c/o Efran Films]
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