Several months into their relationship, Missi Brandt decided to peek in her boyfriend's wallet. On the one hand, Richie Peterson was a godsend: An Afghanistan veteran wrapping up his political science doctorate at the University of Minnesota who was also divorced with kids, had a motorboat, and covered her bills when she lost her job as a flight attendant. But there were things that nagged her about Peterson, whom she had met on OurTime.com, a dating site for people in their mid-life—he was flaky, and always needed rides to the hospital. And so the 45-year-old peeked, and found an ID in the name of Derek Mylan Alldred, explains Rachel Monroe in a long piece for the Atlantic about a serial con man with a long history of dating and even marrying women and stealing huge sums from them.
Brandt also saw credit cards belonging to a woman named Linda in the wallet. That led her to Linda Dyas, 46, who was living with a man she also knew as Peterson. He had hung his Purple Heart certificate on the wall and similarly took care of her financially—it turns out, by stealing from her savings and retirement accounts. Dyas had him arrested (he was quickly released, and left town). The two women met up and soon stumbled upon a group of women conned by him—and the reality that Alldred hadn't been charged for a crime tied to these women, whom he reportedly stole $1 million from. He seemingly "counted on the fact that credit-card abuse is often not taken all that seriously by law enforcement when the victim and the perpetrator know each other," writes Monroe. But they were determined to take him down. And ultimately, they did. Read the fascinating full story here. (Read more Longform stories.)