It’s May 2012, and a team of Colorado police officers have descended on NBA player Chris Andersen’s home. The cops are searching for evidence of terrible crimes, and their investigation threatens to end Andersen’s career for good. Slowly, though, the truth begins to emerge – and it’s stranger than anyone could have imagined.
Born in July 1978 in Long Beach, California, Andersen relocated with his family to Texas when he was just four years old. There, Andersen, his parents and his two siblings settled in the small town of Iola, where they bought a small plot of land. And, worryingly, the young boy initially seemed destined to follow some of his peers into living on the wrong side of the law.
Eventually, though, Andersen realized that his skills on the basketball court could be his ticket to a better life. So, after leaving college early to pursue a professional sporting career, he traveled to China and across the U.S. in search of his big break. Then in 2001 he finally joined the Denver Nuggets – with this marking the first time that a D-League player had ever been called up to the NBA.
During his time with the Nuggets, Andersen then began his transformation into the outlandish-looking character he is today. The player dubbed “Birdman” by his teammates developed an obsession with tattoos and gradually covered his body in colorful designs. He also cut and shaped his hair into a distinctive mohawk style.
Andersen marked himself out on the court too, mind you, and this led to him joining the New Orleans Hornets in 2004. But then in early 2006 he was suspended from the NBA. Apparently, he had been caught using a prohibited drug – a misdemeanor that saw him barred from basketball for a minimum of two years.
Andersen had come too far to be defeated so easily, though, and following a stint in rehab he dedicated himself to improving his game. After that, in 2008, he was welcomed back to finish the season with the Hornets. And later that same year he returned to play for the Nuggets – a successful homecoming that should have marked the end of his career woes.
However, when Andersen encountered a woman going by the name of Paris Dunn, a new chapter in his life began. Born on February 21, 1994, Dunn grew up in Riverside, a Californian city close to Los Angeles. And by the time that she was 17 years old, she had set her sights on modeling for a living.
So it transpired that in 2012 Dunn reached out to various celebs and sporting figures on social media in a bid to kick-start her career. One of those individuals was Andersen, to whom Dunn had sent a rather innocent introduction on Facebook. And while most of her messages to stars went unanswered, she did receive a response from the NBA player’s account.
Dunn was just 17 years old at the time of the exchange – although Andersen was led to believe that she was 21. And although the conversation was casual at first, Andersen and Dunn soon developed a flirtatious relationship, with the pair ultimately exchanging selfies and X-rated photographs.
While her romance with Andersen blossomed online, though, Dunn also began receiving messages from someone calling themselves Tom Taylor. Apparently, he was the NBA player’s best buddy. And even though his area code looked strange, Dunn believed the vague excuse that he supplied.
“[Taylor] 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 told ABC News in 2017. “Me being 17 and dumb, I just believed it.” And besides, she was delighted that her relationship with Andersen appeared to be going so well.
Then Taylor sent Dunn a message persuading her to take her relationship with Andersen to the next level. “We’re talking, and he’s like, ‘I know you really want to meet Chris.’ And then he’s like, ‘I can let you guys meet; he wants to meet you,’” she explained. Keen to spend time with her crush offline, then, Dunn readily agreed.
The prospect of meeting his young fan in person was equally enticing to Andersen, too, and so he purchased her an air ticket to visit him in Denver, Colorado. Then after telling her mother that she was visiting a friend, the 17-year-old boarded a plane and flew some 1,000 miles to cement her internet romance.
In Denver, Andersen was waiting at the airport to collect Dunn. And at first, things seemed to go well between the couple. Apparently, they relaxed together at Andersen’s home outside the city, where they spent time watching films and playing computer games. The pair are also said to have consummated their relationship at around the same time.
But although Andersen and Dunn appeared to enjoy each other’s company, there were a few odd incidents that they seemingly struggled to explain. “[There were] a couple of weird things that didn’t add up,” Dunn later recalled to ABC News. “[Andersen] had turned on the Xbox [and said], ‘Look, your sister must be online.’ I was like, ‘I don’t have an Xbox, and my sister doesn’t play this game.’”
That wasn’t all. Apparently, you see, Andersen believed that Dunn was bringing a collection of lingerie with her to Denver. But when he asked her about it, she claimed not to know what he was talking about. Andersen also made an inquiry about Dunn’s upcoming trip to Africa – only to be met with a similar response.
And the mystery only deepened when Dunn brought up Taylor, because the NBA star reportedly told Dunn that he didn’t know anyone by the name of Tom. However, the starstruck young girl convinced herself that Andersen was merely joking around.
Regardless of these weird developments, though, Andersen and Dunn continued to enjoy a romantic weekend. “It wasn’t just about sex at all,” Dunn later insisted. “We actually did stuff and watched movies on TV. And then he went off to practice… and I stayed home with the dog.”
Still, Dunn’s enjoyment was marred by the barrage of strange texts that she received from Taylor while she was at Andersen’s home. “He was telling me, ‘Go take a picture of this; go put [Andersen’s] hat on,’” Dunn claimed. “I remember being like, ‘I’m not going to go through the guy’s stuff.’”
Even when she was back in California, Dunn continued to receive messages from Taylor, she has alleged. And before long, the aspiring model has said, things became even stranger. Apparently, both Taylor and Andersen asked Dunn to travel to Indiana, where they wanted her help in bringing down an online gamer. Unsurprisingly, she refused – yet the messages grew angry in response.
Then Dunn managed to score tickets to meet the Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin. But she has since explained that when she told Andersen and Taylor about her good fortune, their reaction was frightening. In fact, the teenager later claimed that she was soon subjected to a string of disturbing texts.
“[Taylor] said that he was going to send somebody down there,” Dunn told ABC News. “He was going to have me raped and murdered and thrown on the side of the street. Just because I was going to see Blake. Something just went and just set him off. I was scared. I did not like that.”
After that, things then seemingly went from bad to worse for the young woman. Apparently, Taylor claimed to have possession of explicit photographs that Dunn had sent to Andersen. These he threatened to leak online – along with her personal details. And according to Dunn, the photographs did indeed appear on a website for a brief period.
Terrified and out of her depth, Dunn then turned to her mother for help, and the pair went to the police. But while an investigation was underway, Andersen received an email that purported to be from Dunn’s mom. Apparently, the author of the email knew that the girl had only been 17 when she and Andersen had embarked on a sexual relationship.
In Colorado, where Andersen and Dunn had met, the age of consent is 15, meaning that any sexual relations between the pair would not have been against the law. However, the explicit photographs that Andersen had in his possession would be classed as child pornography owing to the fact that Dunn had been under 18 at the time when the images had been captured.
With this knowledge, the author of the email threatened to blackmail Andersen. So in response, the star’s attorney, Mark Bryant, paid the writer $3,000 in the hope of silencing them – a ploy that, for a while, seemed to have worked. But then in May 2012 Andersen was pulled over by law enforcement while driving through Douglas County, Colorado. And while he initially feared a speeding ticket, what happened next would prove far worse.
According to the officers who’d stopped Andersen, individuals from the Internet Crimes Against Children Unit, or ICACU, had descended on his home, after which they’d left in possession of the NBA player’s electronic devices. The resulting media coverage then threatened to tear Andersen’s life apart.
As rumors spread essentially accusing Andersen of all manner of crimes, the Nuggets had little choice but to drop him from their team. And, shunned by his community, the once-popular athlete hit an all-time low. Ultimately, though, the people investigating his relationship with Dunn made a startling discovery.
As detectives traced the communications between Andersen and Dunn, they noticed something strange. Apparently, all of the pair’s messages could be tracked to Easterville, a tiny community in Manitoba, Canada. There, in turn, authorities caught up with a woman named Shelly Chartier – and after that, the story would grow even more bizarre.
Easterville plays home to fewer than 80 people – a great deal of whom are from the Chemawawin Cree First Nation. In fact, Chartier’s own grandparents were survivors of the residential school scandal there. Previously, though, their community had been a contented one, with food in relative abundance thanks to the people’s expertise in hunting the land and fishing.
But when a local power company wanted to build a dam in the 1960s, the Chemawawin Cree were forced to move to Easterville. There, their traditional industries were no longer viable, and the community descended into poverty. And for Chartier, who grew up in this environment, opportunities to escape were slim.
As a young girl, Chartier had left school in order to care for her sick mother. And without an education, she found herself trapped in Easterville. Soon, she became reclusive and turned to the internet to distract her from her miserable life. So by then creating fake social media accounts for various celebrities, she was finally able to interact with the outside world.
Apparently, one of Chartier’s earliest attempts at internet fraud was a fake profile that she created for Jaclyn Swedberg, a Playboy Playmate of the Year. Using this, she was able to initiate a bogus relationship between the model and a man living in Los Angeles. However, Chartier soon decided to take things further by embarking on a scheme that would almost ruin the lives of her victims.
Over the course of the investigation into Andersen and Dunn, it emerged that both had been fooled by an elaborate catfishing scheme orchestrated by Chartier. Popularized by a 2010 documentary of the same name, the term “catfish” is one typically used to describe an individual creating fake profiles on social media, ostensibly with the intent of luring unsuspecting victims into romantic relationships.
Apparently, Chartier had set up fake accounts for Andersen, Dunn and Taylor – the latter of whom was a fictional individual of her own creation. She then allegedly used these profiles in order to manipulate the NBA player and the young wannabe model into a relationship.
And according to reports, the only genuine communication between the couple had been Dunn’s initial message to the sporting star. However, this had been sent, it’s said, to a fake account that Chartier had created, leaving the catfish able to strike up a conversation with the teenager. Allegedly, Chartier had also used the same approach to message Andersen from another false profile.
In this way, it’s claimed, Chartier was completely in control of Andersen and Dunn’s relationship and able to send messages back and forth between the pair. Then after she added Taylor into the mix, it seems that she was all set to further manipulate Dunn. And this deception apparently somehow went undetected by both Anderson and Dunn themselves.
Eventually, in January 2013, Chartier was arrested on a number of charges, including making threats and extortion. It was to be another eight months before Andersen’s name was officially cleared, though – with the star subsequently being allowed to salvage his career in the NBA. He continues to play professional basketball to this day.
Meanwhile, Dunn seems to have achieved the fame that she was aiming for – albeit in the strangest of ways. After gaining notoriety thanks to her role in the Andersen scandal, she became a minor celebrity in her own right. And in 2018 she made headlines through her relationship with the famous singer Don McLean – a man almost 50 years her senior.
As for Chartier, she has completed her sentence and now lives in Easterville once more. Apparently, she still socializes very little, too, although she now has a husband whom she met while playing Call of Duty online. And although she has since expressed little regret over her treatment of Andersen, she has nevertheless admitted that she exploited Dunn. “I just feel really bad for her,” Chartier confessed to ABC News of her feelings towards the young woman. “I basically used her in every way.”