One day in early August, driven by a feeling she couldn’t quite pinpoint, Missi took a peek at Richie’s wallet. Inside was a Minnesota state ID with a photograph that was unmistakably Richie’s, but with an entirely different name: Derek Mylan Alldred. The wallet also contained a couple of credit cards belonging to someone named Linda. Missi’s heart sank. She’d had a nagging sense that something wasn’t right in her relationship, but she’d shaken it off as her being untrusting. These mysterious objects in his wallet, though, seemed to affirm that Richie was engaged in some larger form of deceit, even if she didn’t understand all the details just yet.
When Missi googled Derek Alldred, half 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 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. Derek Alldred had dated a woman in California under false pretenses and drained her bank account of almost $200,000. Derek Alldred had married a woman, pretended to pay the bills on their home, then vanished after it was foreclosed on. Derek Alldred had posed as a surgeon, checked into the posh Saint Paul Hotel with a woman and her two daughters, racked up nearly $2,000 in charges, then skipped out on the bill (and the woman).
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. And those credit cards kept nagging at her: “There is someone else out there who is being completely fricking screwed right now,” she remembers thinking. It took a bit of detective work, but eventually Missi tracked Linda down on Facebook and sent her a message. “You’re probably going to think I’m crazy,” it began.