Miami Heat center Chris Andersen has been cleared by authorities in a complex case that found the basketball star was a victim of an online "catfish" dating hoax.
Fifteen months after an investigation surrounding a relationship with an underage girl from California, authorities discovered Andersen was innocent and had been deceived online by a woman in Canada.
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“We were always confident that Chris was innocent but we just couldn’t figure out what had happened,” Mark Bryant, Andersen's attorney, told ESPN
. “It turned out that it was a Manti Te'o situation. It was Manti Te'o on steroids.”
Te'o, the former Notre Dame football star, was caught up in a scheme last year
when several people created fake social media profiles and feigned a relationship with Te'o over the Internet, a plot referred to as "catfishing."
In Andersen's case, a Canadian woman apparently pretended to be an acquaintance of Andersen in California, and then pretended to be Andersen while communicating with that woman. Police say she made threats while pretending to be Andersen and tried to extort Andersen while she was acting as his love interest.
The woman, Shelly Lynn Chartier, 29, of Easterville, Manitoba, was arrested by Canadian police in January. She was charged with possession and transmission of child pornography, extortion and utter threats, and may be charged in Colorado as well, The Associated Press reported.
Chartier's communications between the parties were successful enough that the woman from California traveled to Colorado to meet Andersen when he was playing for the Denver Nuggets. Their relationship, however, did not go anywhere. The woman from California was of legal age, Bryant said.
Police raided Andersen’s house looking for an I.P. address, Bryant told ESPN, which is the way computers are identified. They came up with nothing.
Bryant told ESPN that he and Andersen met with police who explained in detail what really happened.
“It was right out of CSI with all the charts,” Bryant told ESPN. “When we walked in there both pretty hostile, it had been 15 months since this happened and we were cooperating but we hadn't heard anything. Chris had a pretty good scowl.
“By the end of the interview he was very grateful. The work and the people who worked on this — he was just very grateful. But when he walked out he was solemn because there were other victims here,” Bryant added.
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