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How a woman catfished an NBA star and an aspiring model, almost ruining their lives

parisfrontShelly Chartier is a soft-spoken Canadian woman who seems so childlike at first that she looks more like a teenager than someone in their 30s.

Watch the full story on ABC News' "20/20"  Full Video Click Here

The 33-year-old lived an isolated life for years caring for her invalid mother inside their small home in the tiny town of Easterville, located in the Canadian province of Manitoba. She only has a 6th grade education and had no contact with the outside world except for a computer and an internet connection.

Given her seemingly simple and very quiet life, it’s hard to imagine that Chartier was the mastermind behind a massive “catfishing” scheme that launched an international criminal investigation and, authorities say, almost ruined the career of an NBA star, terrorized an aspiring model in Los Angeles and manipulated several other victims.

“She tends to try and downplay or mitigate what she did, to pass it off on others, to make it seem as if she was just some innocent bystander who got caught up in all this,” said Mike McIntyre, reporter with the Winnipeg Free Press.

In fall 2011, aspiring model Paris Dunn, who goes by her stage name online, Paris Dylan, was 17 years old when she thought she had caught the eye of pro-basketball player Chris “Birdman” Andersen. At the time, Andersen was 33 years old, playing for the Denver Nuggets, and known for his impressive plays on the court and his colorful tattoos.

Over the course of several weeks, the two developed an online relationship, exchanging hundreds of messages and eventually they shared nude photos with each other. At one point, Paris agreed to fly to Denver to meet Andersen in person at the urging of someone else she met online, who called himself Tom Taylor and claimed to be Andersen’s best friend. While she was at his home, according to Paris, some of the things Andersen claimed Paris had previously said online didn’t make sense, but she brushed it off.

One week after their weekend rendezvous, Paris said she was barraged with messages from who she thought was Taylor, and when she mentioned that she was going to meet another pro-basketball player, the messages became angry and aggressive. At one point, she said Taylor threatened to have her “raped, and murdered, and thrown on the side of the street.”

Dunn said then Taylor told her Andersen shared the nude photos she sent him and Taylor was going to post them online along with her name, address and phone number. She then said Taylor sent her a link that included all the photos she had sent Andersen. She said the photos were then posted online for a short time.

Frightened, Dunn finally told her mother what had been going on and they called the police.

Andersen declined ABC News “20/20” requests for comment, and instead his attorney Mark Bryant sat down for an interview.

Bryant said in February 2012, Andersen was playing an away game in Oklahoma City when he got a strange email and handed Bryant his phone. Bryant said the writer of the email claimed to be Dunn's mother and said she knew that Andersen had spent the weekend with her 17-year-old daughter. Bryant said Andersen believed Dunn was older and she had lied about her age when she booked her plane ticket to Denver.

Bryant said the author of the email was threatening to ruin Andersen’s life and career.

“I respond back, ‘You're talking to his attorney. There's nothing that's happened here that's criminal. You're engaged in extortion. Go away,’” Bryant said.

He said he ended up sending her $3,000 in hopes the situation would disappear.

However, law enforcement executed a search warrant on Andersen’s home in May 2012. Even if Dunn was only 17, Andersen’s relations with her are legal in the state of Colorado, where the age of consent is 15. But the nude photos of her on Andersen’s phone could be considered child pornography since Dunn was under 18.

After combing through both Andersen’s and Paris’ electronic records, investigators eventually deduced that their correspondence had been occuring through fake online accounts. Detectives found IP addresses and phone numbers originating in Canada and reached out to Canadian authorities. The IP addresses were eventually traced back to Shelly Chartier.

“20/20” tracked down Chartier at her home in Easterville, where she said she was the caregiver for her bedridden mother. She said she never went to the doctor or dentist -- most of her teeth are gone. She said she had no outside friends, was bullied at school and dropped out at age 12 when she was in the sixth grade.

“I went through a period where I didn’t leave my house for 11 years,” Chartier told “20/20.”

With the internet as her only window to the outside world, investigators say Chartier allegedly tormented 11 victims over three years by making numerous fake Facebook pages impersonating a YouTube comedian, a Playboy Playmate and reality TV star, Brody Jenner.

Chartier explained how she orchestrated the complex catfishing scheme she set up between Paris and Andersen.

“I was bored one night and I thought, I saw this girl on Facebook on his page, and she was like, ‘Hey, call me,’ like, seeking attention,” Chartier said.

So Chartier decided to create a fake profile, posing as Andersen, and message Paris.

“I said, ‘Hey, it’s Chris,” Chartier said. “And she said, ‘Oh my God.’”

“And then I thought, ‘I have to get him to notice her, but I couldn’t,’” she continued. “So I just texted Chris from a different app and I said, ‘Hey,’ and he said, ‘Who are you?’ and I said, ‘It’s Paris,’ and he said, ‘How’d you get my number?’ I said, ‘Facebook.’ He said, ‘Oh, OK.’”

Police can’t say for sure how Chartier got Andersen’s phone number but she did, and she got a hold of Paris’ number by pretending to be Andersen on a fake profile and asking for it.

For months, Paris and Andersen were communicating and they didn’t know that the entire time they were never talking to each other directly. All of their messages were coming from and going through Chartier. Chartier was also behind the messages from Taylor and created a false Tom Taylor persona to fuel the scheme on Paris.

Though she expressed some remorse, Chartier said she blames Paris for falling for the scheme, especially for agreeing to get on a plane to go to Denver to meet Andersen.

“Most people would also ask to talk to the person they were going to see [on the phone],” she said. “Or Skype them, or something. They wouldn’t just fly somewhere and not know this person… I didn’t tell her to fly down there, I just asked her if she would.”

As for those extortion messages Andersen’s attorney Mark Bryant said he received from someone pretending to be Paris’ mother, Chartier claims she never threatened Andersen and claims she never asked for money from him, but that Bryant offered it.

Investigators say there is no doubt that Chartier was posing as Paris’ mother in those messages. Gord Olson, a constable with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police – Canada’s version of the FBI – who was assigned to the Andersen case, said Chartier seemed to think she hit the jackpot when she got her hands on the nude photos Paris thought she was sending to Andersen.

“She saw an opportunity to get some money out of the deal,” Olson said.

Olson was one of the officers who showed up at Chartier’s door to arrest her on January 15, 2013. When they arrived, he said it seemed like Chartier acted astonished.

“She kind of feigned a little bit of like being surprised, I guess. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ that sort of stuff, but I mean, she knew,” Olson said. “She knew what was going on.”

After she was arrested, Chartier met another man online through playing xBox Live – 22-year-old Rob Marku who lives in New York.

“She sent me a message and I responded and it kind of went back and forth… and we took it from there,” Marku told “20/20.”

As Marku and Chartier grew closer, he said his family became more suspicious.

“A lot of them would say things like, ‘Oh maybe she’s not even real… and they’re using you,’ and all types of stuff,” he said. “And I said, ‘No, I know for a fact that she’s real and I’ll prove it.’”

Despite warnings from loved ones, Marku went to Canada to meet Chartier.

“When I first got there I was nervous,” he said. “I went to knock on the other door and she just appeared right by my side and kind of scared me.”

Then Chartier claims that Marku asked her something out of the blue.

“He showed up, and he came to my room and he said, ‘So you want to marry me?’ And I said, ‘OK,’” she said. “We got married in the kitchen.”

A minister from a neighboring town married them. Instead of a wedding gown, Chartier said she wore pajamas.

“The internet and, and all the harm that it brought in Shelly Chartier’s world… may actually have brought her something else in life and that is a husband, something that probably would have been foreign to her, this idea of actually a relationship,” McIntyre said.

In September 2013, more than a year after the news of Andersen’s relationship with Dunn broke publicly, Colorado authorities told the NBA star he was not a suspect in the case but a victim of an elaborate catfishing scheme. Andersen went on to play for the Miami Heat, the Memphis Grizzlies and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Chartier eventually pleaded guilty to various charges of impersonation, extortion and making threats. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Having not left her home in over a decade, Chartier said she thought her life was over when she reported to prison, but in an odd way, prison life helped her become more socialized.

“I was scared to go out, I was scared to do anything… Very scared of life,” she said. “This one guard said… ‘You don’t make eye contact. Like you look everywhere but me…fix that… talk to people.’”

While in prison, Chartier said she got a job and learned how to talk to people, and eventually she was able to work on getting over her social anxiety.

“For somebody who really has no friends, who’s had little outside contact with the world, jail could actually turn out to be a blessing,” McIntyre said.

Chartier was released on Oct. 22, 2016 after serving 12 months. Looking back on the ordeal now, she said she didn’t think about the emotional toll she was taking on Paris and Andersen.

“I’m stupid, just plain and simple,” she said. “I’ve never known people like that, I never knew anybody in the NBA, and thought like, I thought that was cool, I guess.”

Today, Chartier is back at home in Easterville. She is serving two years probation and is allowed to use the internet only with court-ordered supervision

She and her husband have to separate often because he’s not a Canadian citizen and has to go back to New York periodically. Chartier cannot come to the U.S. because the state of Colorado still has a warrant out for her arrest. If extradited to the U.S. and convicted, she could face 24 years in prison.

Attorney Mark Bryant said he doesn’t believe justice has been served for Andersen.

“This person does not seem to be remorseful to me,” he said. “The depth of this, the number of people that were involved, due respect for Canada, they had their-- they're first in line.”

Paris also believes that the time she served in a Canadian prison isn’t enough of a punishment for Chartier after what she put her through.

“I wish it was more,” Paris said. “As much time as she can get anywhere, I would agree with.”

As I stepped outside at Manitoba’s James Armstrong Richardson airport last November, I shivered in the cold. Winter comes early to Winnipeg (or “Winterpeg” as the locals call it), a city best known as the launching point for tourists looking to catch a sight of polar bears in Churchill, near the Arctic Circle. But I was in search of something far more elusive than a polar bear -- I was hunting for Shelly Chartier, the “Ghost of Easterville” - a woman who had engineered a stunningly complex catfishing scheme ensnaring an NBA superstar and a social media princess.

The next morning, I was up before dawn to begin my five-hour drive north toward Easterville, a tiny First Nation village nestled on the southern edge of pristine Cedar Lake. With cups of coffee, bottles of water, and a sense of adventure, my producer, Jonathan Balthaser and I departed into the Canadian early morning chill.

Almost immediately the urban landscape of Winnipeg gave way to vast swaths of frozen farmland punctuated only by lonely gas stations and truck stops. But before we could settle in for the 300-mile drive, there were a couple of dramatic moments.

First, the small GoPro camera we attached to the hood of the car apparently couldn’t sustain the frigid air. As I made my way through the thick morning fog, sharing some small story about our long journey, suddenly, the windshield was struck by a flying object. I screamed. Jonathan, rattled as well, suggested I pull over. We were both surprised that the camera had gone flying over the roof of the car. Jonathan insisted on sprinting across the two-lane highway to look for it. To my surprise, less than 10 minutes later, he returned with the camera and the mount dirty and beaten, but intact. Whew! What more could happen, right?

Well, what about a Canadian state trooper parked along Highway 6 just a few kilometers ahead of us. To my dismay, blue lights were soon flashing in the rearview mirror. I was the only car on the road at that moment, so there wasn’t much guessing about who was being pulled over. The signs posted in kilometers caught me off guard. Somehow I didn’t realize that my 128-kilometer speed translated into 80 mph. Oops! But fortunately, Canadian police can be sympathetic toward a confused New Yorker. He let me off with a stern but friendly warning. We decided it was now time for Jonathan to drive.

Soon, the farmland gradually shifted to an enormous, hardy forest. On we drove, and our cellphone service ceased. It felt like we were driving back in time: This terrain is ruled by nature, and locals warned us never to let our gas fall below half a tank, because the land out here is so remote, the closest help can be hours away.

Finally, after over five hours of driving, we arrived in Easterville, home to the Chemawawin Cree Nation, and to Chartier. As I mic’ed up and prepared to go meet her, my producers went in to greet her and set up. But minutes later, they walked out of the tiny house looking worried and like they had seen, well, a ghost. Chartier, 32, was getting cold feet. She was refusing to do the interview even though she had already agreed to sit down with me. After some further discussion, Chartier agreed to at least say hello. When I finally came face to face with her, I was shocked to meet a small 90-pound woman who looked every bit a teenager and had the shy affect of someone years younger.

Eventually, Chartier dropped her guard and led me to her kitchen table to talk. Sensing the possibility of the moment, my producers began rolling their small hand-held cameras, all of us unaware of what would happen next.

Chartier began to share the story of her incredible deceptions on camera for the first time in her life. She revealed a sad life of deprivation and loneliness. She told us she was bullied in school and dropped out in sixth grade. Instead of books and homework, her life revolved around the care of her bedridden mother, Delia. She became anxious, agoraphobic and housebound.

Isolated from the world, Chartier turned to the internet for amusement. She would spend her hours trolling Facebook and following celebrities online. One night, on a whim, she pretended to be Chris “The Birdman” Andersen, and reached out to Paris Dunn, a fan who had written on his Facebook page. She said she was surprised by how easy it was to impersonate another person. Thus began a complicated puppeteering act that would begin with Andersen and Dunn meeting for a weekend tryst and end with police raiding Andersen’s house after explicit nude photos of Dunn were posted online. Birdman was fired from the Nuggets. He was labeled a pedophile by some. The Ghost of Easterville had struck.

While I talked with her, Chartier was by turns evasive and forthcoming; sometimes admitting wrongdoings, but also laying blame on other parties. “I’m stupid,” she told me, when I asked her why she did it. But she also chastised Dunn for failing to fact check and make sure she was really talking with Andersen, who was later cleared by police. Chartier was sentenced to 18 months in prison, but she says her time there has reformed her and even socialized her. She can now leave the house without fear and look you in the eye, she said.

After our interview, I said goodbye to Chartier and her new husband, Rob Marku, whom she also met online. As I headed back to Winnipeg through the dark Manitoba night, I wondered if Chartier would keep her word and stop meddling in other people’s lives online. We will have to wait and see what happens with this catfish, but in the meantime, the Ghost of Easterville is haunted herself – by authorities in the United States. Christopher Gallo, the district attorney in Colorado told ABC News that they are actively pursuing extradition proceedings with hopes of pressing new charges against Chartier.

As an aspiring model in Southern California with hundreds of thousands of social media followers, Paris Dunn relishes being in the spotlight.

But the 23-year-old, whose stage name is Paris Dylan, never imagined that she would get so much attention for being entangled in a mind-bending, elaborate “catfishing” scheme that would eventually include vicious threats, blackmail, search warrants, an NBA star and an international criminal investigation.

Nev Schulman, who helped make “catfishing” a household term after he made a documentary about his own “catfishing” experience that he later turned into an MTV series, said Dunn's story is “one of the most complicated, confusing catfish stories I’ve ever heard.”

“A catfish is someone who uses internet profiles to interact with people online, usually pretending to be either a version of themselves or someone entirely different,” Schulman explained. “What [Dunn’s] catfish was able to accomplish is not only sophisticated, but incredibly manipulative, emotionally very traumatic, and at the same time wildly creative and somewhat impressive.”

Dunn has a huge social media presence. She has 25,000 Twitter followers, 87,000 Facebook fans and 370,000 Instagram followers. When she was just 17 years old, she said she started flirting with pro-athletes online, telling them she was older. Then she thought she had caught the eye of NBA star Chris “Birdman” Andersen on Facebook.

At the time, Andersen was a 33-year-old basketball star for the Denver Nuggets, known for his impressive plays on the court and his colorful tattoos. He had used drugs and fought his way back after a two-year suspension from the NBA.

It was fall 2011 when Dunn said she received a message that appeared to be from Andersen on Facebook that said, “Hey ... I see you’re a fan.” Dunn said she was a little skeptical at first, “but being 17, I was an excited girl.”

“I wrote back and was like, ‘Hey,’ and then like it was kind of like, ‘What are you doing?’” Dunn continued. “I remember that he said that he was eating pizza and you know it kind of took off from there.”

She said their conversations jumped between Facebook, email and texting, which then led to sending each other selfies.

“I was very excited because I was receiving them and seeing them back,” she said.

They soon were in a whirlwind online relationship, swapping more pictures. Dunn said she received selfies of Andersen around his house and with his pit bull, Hannibal.

But then, a new person started messaging Dunn on Facebook, saying his name was Tom Taylor, claiming to be a gamer and Andersen’s best friend, and they soon started communicating. Dunn said she noticed the phone numbers she had for both Andersen and Taylor had odd area codes and she asked Taylor about it.

“He just said, ‘Oh it's my Google number, you know, it's all good. I'm just switching Google numbers, it's online so people don't get my number,’” Dunn said. “Me being 17 and dumb, I just believed it.”

Dunn said she continued to text back and forth with Andersen, and their relationship turned x-rated.

“We exchanged nude photos,” she said. “I trusted that it was him and I knew he wouldn't do anything because of his position.”

Dunn said it was Taylor who suggested she go meet Andersen in person.

“We're talking and he's like, ‘I know you really like Chris,’ and then he's like, ‘I can let you guys meet, he wants to meet you,’” Dunn said Taylor told her.

Intrigued by their steamy online relationship, Dunn accepted an invitation for a weekend rendezvous in Denver and Andersen bought her the plane ticket. Dunn said she told her mother, whom she was still living with, that she was going to go visit a boyfriend.

What she wouldn’t learn until later is that the entire weekend had been orchestrated by someone other than Andersen.

“At this point, it really became a game, and the catfish wanted to see how far they could take it,” Schulman said.

Dunn landed at the Denver International Airport and Andersen was there to pick her up. Dunn said their “first date” quickly became awkward because they both seemed to have incorrect details about each other.

“[There were] a couple little weird things that didn't add up,” Dunn said. “Such as, he had turned on the Xbox… and he says, ‘Look, your sister must be online.’ … and I was like, ‘I don't have an Xbox and my sister doesn't play this game.’”

There were other inconsistencies too.

“He said, ‘You told me you brought a lot of Victoria's Secret stuff to wear for me.’ I said, ‘No I didn't,’” Dunn said. “And then he was like, ‘When is your trip to Africa?’ I was like, ‘I'm not going on any trip. What are you talking about?’”

And then Dunn said she brought up Taylor, Andersen’s supposed best friend.

“I said, 'Well Tom said' … he was like, ‘Who's Tom?’ I was like, ‘Your best friend.’ He was like, ‘I don't know a Tom,’” Dunn said.

Thinking Andersen was messing with her, Dunn said she just shrugged it off. The two continued the weekend with Dunn hanging out at Andersen’s house in Larkspur, outside of Denver.

“It wasn't just about sex at all,” Dunn said. “We actually did stuff and watched movies on TV and then he went off to practice ... and I stayed with the dog.”

But while she was in Andersen’s house, Dunn said Taylor was still texting her constantly.

“He was telling me, ‘Go take a picture of this, go put his hat on.’ I remember being like, ‘I'm not going to go through the guy's stuff,’” Dunn said.

Dunn and Andersen finished their weekend together and Dunn got on a plane to head back home to California. But soon after, she said she started getting barraged with messages from Taylor.

“It was like 3:00 in the morning. It was all the time,” Dunn said. “I remember him being pretty harsh too, almost like a jealous woman would be.”

Then Dunn said she started getting messages from both Taylor and Andersen, pressuring her to take another trip -- this time to Indiana.

“There was a gamer in Indiana, and they wanted me to fly to Indiana… pretend I was taking lessons about the game, and steal this guy's gamer code and password, and give it to them so they could hack it and bring all his stuff down, so he doesn't win anymore,” Dunn said. “[They] even bought a [plane] ticket to Indiana ... the more I refused, the ... angrier they got.”

Then Dunn mentioned another basketball player, Blake Griffin, with the Los Angeles Clippers.

“My friend gave me tickets to go meet Blake Griffin at some Clipper event,” Dunn said. “So I said, ‘I'm going to go see Blake Griffin today, exciting.’”

She was stunned when she said that message seemed to enrage both Andersen and Taylor. She said Taylor began sending her angry, abusive text messages.

“He said that he was going to send somebody down there ... he was going to have me raped, and murdered, and thrown on the side of the street,” Dunn said. “Just because I was going to see Blake. Something just went and just set him off ... I was scared. I did not like that.”

Dunn said then Taylor told her Andersen shared the nude photos she sent him and he was going to post them online along with her name, address and phone number. She then said Taylor sent her a link that included all the photos she had sent Andersen. She said the photos were then posted online for a short time.

Frightened, Dunn finally told her mother what had been going on and they called the police.

“The police come over and we're like, ‘Chris Andersen's involved,’” Dunn said. “They're like small town police people so they're like, ‘What?’ ... probably two hours later he came back and when my mom opened door he said, ‘You just opened a can of worms.’”

Andersen declined requests for comment from ABC News “20/20,” and instead his attorney Mark Bryant sat down for an interview.

Bryant said in February 2012, Andersen was playing an away game in Oklahoma City when he got a strange email and handed Bryant the phone. Bryant said the writer of the email claimed to be Dunn's mother and said she knew that Andersen had spent the weekend with her 17-year-old daughter. Bryant said Andersen believed Dunn was older and she had lied about her age when she booked her plane ticket to Denver.

“She booked through a travel agent of Chris's, and gave a date a birth that matched 21,” Bryant said. “How did she come through the airport and everything else with security with that date of birth?”

Bryant said the author of the email was threatening to ruin Andersen’s life and career.

“I respond back, ‘You're talking to his attorney. There's nothing that's happened here that's criminal. You're engaged in extortion. Go away,’” Bryant said.

Even if Dunn was only 17, Andersen’s relations with her are legal in the state of Colorado, where the age of consent is 15. But the nude photos of her on Andersen’s phone would be considered child pornography since Dunn was under 18.

To protect Andersen, Bryant said he sent the writer of the email $3,000 over PayPal to make the whole thing go away, writing back, ‘You might have something, I don't know, but look, without any admissions, one way or the other ... this is embarrassing to us. Just go home.’”

A couple of months went by and Bryant said he and Andersen heard nothing more until Andersen was pulled over by the Douglas County, Colorado, sheriff’s department in May 2012. Their Internet Crimes Against Children Unit had swarmed Andersen’s home and seized his computers, phones and other electronic devices.

At the time, the Nuggets were in the NBA playoffs and the story made national headlines. Andersen was let go from the team at the end of the season.

“It was hard on Chris,” Bryant said. “And people were putting labels on him, and they were not good labels. ... This was absolutely contrary to who this man was, what he believed in, what his heart bled. It just made no sense to me.”

Tattoo artist John Slaughter, who said he has gotten to know Andersen after 15 years of inking his tattoos, said the scandal got to Andersen so much that he felt forced to leave town.

“He was like a staple in Denver," Slaughter said. “He had to leave. He left here because people were so cruel and so disrespectful, and they had no idea what was going on.”

Meanwhile, Dunn said she thought Andersen betrayed her by sharing her nude photos with Taylor, who posted them online and threatened her life.

At the time, neither Andersen nor Dunn knew they both had been communicating through a stranger, who had posed as both of them, Tom Taylor and Dunn’s mother in the email to Andersen.

As Colorado detectives dug through Andersen’s and Dunn’s electronic records, they started to find fake Facebook pages, fake email addresses and fake phone numbers, with IP addresses originating in Canada.

Gord Olson, a constable with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police -- Canada’s version of the FBI – was assigned to the case. The IP addresses were traced back to the province of Manitoba in a tiny town called Easterville.

“We were a little surprised .... of the location of where it was coming from,” Olson said.

There, authorities discovered that a reclusive woman named Shelly Chartier had not only been “catfishing” Andersen and Dunn, but that she allegedly had been tormenting 11 victims over three years, making numerous Facebook pages impersonating a YouTube comedian, a Playboy Playmate, and even reality TV star Brody Jenner. She was arrested in January 2013.

In September 2013, more than a year after the news of Andersen’s relationship with Dunn broke publicly, Colorado authorities told the NBA star he was not a suspect in the case but a victim of an elaborate catfishing scheme. Andersen went on to play for the Miami Heat, the Memphis Grizzlies and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Chartier eventually pleaded guilty to various charges of impersonation, extortion and making threats. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Today, Chartier, now 33, has served her time and is back at home in Easterville. She is serving two years probation and is allowed to use the internet only with court-ordered supervision. She even has a husband, whom she also met online and lives in New York.

When asked if she had anything to say to Andersen, she said, “I don’t know,” but for Dunn, she feels differently.

“I just feel really bad for her,” Chartier said. “Because I basically used her in every way.”

Source: ABC News

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