How Chris “Birdman” Andersen Got Tied Up In An Intricate Catfishing Scandal

Athletes | 5/21/19

Since its inception, social media has evolved into something that no one saw coming. In the past, it used to be used strictly to communicate with your friends. Today, it feels like it runs our lives, and many have learned to utilize it to manipulate people, especially the rich and famous. Just ask NBA player Chris Andersen, also known as “Birdman,” who fell victim to a “catfishing” scheme not too long ago. It all happened right when Birdman was catching his stride in the NBA…

An Unexpected Turn

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Rob Foldy/Getty Images
Rob Foldy/Getty Images

It was just another day for Chris Andersen as he headed to the Pepsi Center in Denver where the Nuggets play. During what he thought to be a routine trip to his team’s arena, a nightmare unfolded in a matter of moments as his NBA career was suddenly on the line.

The annoying sound of sirens honed in on Birdman. He thought he was only getting pulled over for a speeding ticket. The cops informed him that speeding would be the least of his worries. A team of officers and members of the Internet Crimes Against Children Unit were headed to his with a search warrant…

Who Is The Birdman?

chris andersen early
Efawcett7/Twitter
Efawcett7/Twitter

A good childhood friend of Chris Andersen said if you grow up in Lola, Texas, you either go to jail or work in the oil fields. For a while, it looked like Andersen would end up behind bars, living out of worst of those outcomes.

Thanks to basketball, Birdman’s life trajectory changed for the better. The sport sent him to North Dakota, China, North Carolina, and New Mexico in search of a pro career. All he wanted was to find a permanent home, something he didn’t get as a troubled youth…

Entering The League

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Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

After years of hard work, Chris Andersen finally got his big break. The Denver Nuggets called him up from the D-League (the first call up in NBA history). He looked nothing like the man he is today, void of all the colorful tattoos and bushy beard that have become his calling card.

As his time in the NBA extended, he began to develop an alter ego. Andersen was a high-flying, finesse player. The fans loved him when he pulled off big dunks and blocks. He slowly earned the “Birdman” nickname and it couldn’t have been more fitting. As his popularity increased, so did the ink on his skin.

Rise And Fall

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Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

After showing how much of an impact he could have on games and a team while playing for the Denver Nuggets, the New Orleans Hornets gave him a lucrative deal in free agency. Sadly, his rise to stardom happened as quickly as his fall from grace.

The NBA kicked Andersen out of the league in 2006 for drug use. It wasn’t for marijuana or steroids. Andersen had been using hard drugs and he was banned for at least two years. With all that time on his hands, Andersen used it wisely as he attended rehab and stayed in game shape by working on his skills.

Second Chances

paris model
parisdylanmodel/Instagram
parisdylanmodel/Instagram

Two years after getting banned, the NBA reinstated Andersen. The Hornets decided to re-sign him on March 5, 2008, giving him his much-needed second chance. After that season, Andersen became a much desired free agent.

Birdman’s future looked bright again and the Nuggets decided to bring him back. He was back on the team that gave him his first real shot and he carved out a nice role for himself in the Mile High city. He gave himself more tattoos and distanced himself from the drugs. Then along came Paris Dunn, an aspiring model…

Who Is Paris Dunn?

paris dylan
parisdylan550/Instagram
parisdylan550/Instagram

Paris Dunn (who now goes by Paris Dylan) was an aspiring model from Riverside, CA, willing to do whatever it took to be a star. While she’s a known name today, in 2012 she was still attempting to break into the industry.

That’s why she targeted athletes and celebrities via social media in hopes of them replying. It would only take one response to elevate her career. At 17, she reached out to Andersen, who was 33 at the time. She wrote a simple Facebook message and Birdman responded…

Selfies And Texts

paris birdman texts
abcnews
abcnews

“I see you are a fan,” Andersen replied to the Facebook message. From there, things would get interesting. The pair ended up messaging on Facebook, text, and email. As they became more comfortable with each other, they exchanged illicit photographs.

Andersen wasn’t aware of Dunn’s true age and was simply thrilled to have a fan be so passionate about him. Dunn was equally thrilled and soon, the two agreed to meet up. Birdman decided to fly her out to Denver for a romantic weekend…

Getting Cozy In Denver

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abcnews
abcnews

The weekend had finally come and the two got off to a great start. As the internet lovebirds went towards Andersen’s home, they were both filled with nervousness and excitement since it was their “first” time meeting.

Once there, Dunn played with his dog, the two had consensual intercourse, she played his video games, and they watched movies. At this point, Dunn was in awe by her good fortune, which helped her brush off some strange things Birdman said to her. That would happen numerous times throughout the weekend but not enough to raise any red flags…

Getting Confused

dunn Insta
parisdylan550/Instagram
parisdylan550/Instagram

Over the course of their time together, Andersen would make weird statements to Dunn. She didn’t think much of these comments, but would occasionally get taken back. One example is when Andersen turned on his Xbox and said, “Look, your sister must be online.” Dunn was confused and told him, “I don’t have an Xbox and my sister doesn’t play this game.”

Things got really suspicious when Andersen asked Dunn when she was going on her trip to Africa. She was in such disbelief but responded with, “I’m not going on any trip. What are you talking about?”

Who Is Tom Taylor??

chris andersen strange statements
Adam Hunger/BIG3/Getty Images
Adam Hunger/BIG3/Getty Images

After Dunn didn’t know anything about a trip to Africa, she brought something up to Andersen and he too had a clueless response. Dunn brought up Andersen’s “best friend” Tom Taylor, whom she had been texting, but he said he didn’t have a friend by that name. She didn’t believe him so she kept asking but Birdman continued to act clueless.

Despite all of this, the two still enjoyed their time together and Dunn even stayed back at his place as he went off to practice. She continued to communicate with Taylor and he began to give her strange requests like telling her to take a picture with his hat on.

Dunn In Danger

danger dunn
parisdylan550/Instagram
parisdylan550/Instagram

It was time for Dunn to head back to California. She and Andersen continued to exchange messages, but the fling was starting to die down a bit. Suddenly, things became scary as Dunn received tickets from a friend to go meet star player Blake Griffin, who was on the Los Angeles Clippers at the time.

After letting Andersen and Taylor know about it, they both didn’t like the idea. She began to receive threatening texts and even got threatened to get blackmailed…

The Threatening Texts

chris andersen
Luyao/VCG via Getty Images
Luyao/VCG via Getty Images

Dunn would tell ABC about the chilling texts in which Tom Taylor said to her “he was going to send somebody down there…he was going to have me [assaulted], and murdered, and thrown on the side of the street.” Then the blackmail came.

The nude photos she had sent to Andersen were going to get posted online with her number, address, and name. Taylor then sent Dunn a link of all the extreme photos that became shared between her and Birdman. Dunn was in utter disbelief…

Call The Cops!

andersen birdman
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

By now, Dunn knew she was in over her head. She had already lied to her mother about where she was going for the weekend, she lied to Andersen about her age, and she sent explicit photos.

Now those pictures were coming back in the worst way imaginable. A man she hadn’t met was talking to her aggressively, a man who said he was Andersen’s best friend. As a result, Dunn decided to tell her mother what was going on and they decided to head to the police.

Birdman Gets Threatened Next…

blackmail birdman
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

While Dunn had to deal with her own problems, Andersen started to receive emails from a woman claiming to be the aspiring model’s mother. The messages were very straightforward as she revealed she knew everything that went down. Since Dunn was underage, those photos would be considered criminal.

Andersen knew if this information leaked, his career would be in shambles again, as it once was when he fell victim to drugs. Dunn’s mother used this as leverage to make Birdman send her $5,000 over PayPal.

Getting To The Truth

dunn cops
parisdylan550/Instagram
parisdylan550/Instagram

After Dunn and her mother got the police involved, things escalated to a new level. The head of Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC), Shawn Cronce, had possession of Andersen’s hard drive after the raid of his house. She traced the origins of each message sent between Andersen and Dunn.

Surprisingly, each messaged led her back to a small town in northern Canada, which was out of Cronce’s jurisdiction. This became an international case and Canada’s version of the FBI got in on the investigation…

International Case

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Brendan Kennedy/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Brendan Kennedy/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Shawn Cronce now had the help of Constable Gord Olson and the two worked nonstop to figure out what was really going on. After months of investigation, they uncovered that each message sent was intercepted by a small house in Easterville, Manitoba.

Easterville consists of about 100 people and a very small market. Living in the house that was intercepting the messages was Shelly Chartier. She was the mastermind behind this whole elaborate catfishing scam. And it might just be the most complex catfish in history…

The Mastermind…

Shelly chartier chris andersen catfish
Ant Ant/YouTube
Ant Ant/YouTube

Shelly Chartier was a recluse living in a small town (her house is pictured). Her childhood was similar to Andersen in that they were both impoverished and lacked opportunity. She had to drop out of school by sixth grade and take care of her bedridden mother.

With no friends and less of a future in front of her, there were no options for a young Chartier, especially with just a 6th-grade education. She hadn’t left home in 11 years, her teeth were rotting, and the internet was the only way for her to escape misery…

Okay, But Who Is Tom Taylor??

 Shelly Chartier pin
Mike/Pinterest
Mike/Pinterest

Tom Taylor was nothing more than an Alias Chartier used to strike fear into Paris Dunn and communicate with Andersen and Dunn. According to the model, Taylor was supposed to be Andersen’s best friend, but he was nothing more than a puppet. He was the one who told Dunn, “I know you really like Chris. I can let you guys meet, he wants to meet you.”

Even though Andersen said he didn’t know Taylor, Dunn continued to believe he was a real person. Even with Dunn getting creeped out by such weird requests, she never suspected anything was foul.

The Set Up

Shelly Chartier
abcnews
abcnews

Tom Taylor was only part of the plan. Chartier had to figure out how to capitalize on the overzealous Dunn who so desperately wanted to meet up a celebrity. Remember how Dunn got a suspiciously fast reply from Andersen upon messaging him on Facebook? Well, that was a fake profile Chartier had set up.

After tricking the young girl into thinking she was talking to an NBA player, she had to set up the other part of the plan which was getting the real-life Birdman involved with Dunn. She used the same formula.

The Middle Man

abc news dunn
abcnews
abcnews

After creating a fake page of Dunn, Chartier messaged the real Andersen and eventually got both of their phone numbers. That’s when she began to manipulate the conversations going on between the two with cell phones that had Canadian area codes.

Neither of the victims grew suspicious of the odd area codes and the Facebook pages looked legit enough. Another strange thing is that both Andersen and Dunn didn’t try to call each other. Chartier would pose as Dunn and ask for selfies. She switched roles and the cycle continued. Therefore, Dunn and Andersen never directly communicated with each other. Chartier would just intercept each message and relay the information and pictures to the other person.

THIS Is Tom Taylor

tom taylor catfish
abcnews
abcnews

Chartier created Tom Taylor as an alias that would give her leverage of this whole situation. Since Andersen wouldn’t gain anything from posting Dunn’s nude photo’s online, and only have everything to lose, that’s where Taylor comes into play.

Taylor acted as the middle man who was able to blackmail and manipulate Dunn into saying or doing things. Chartier also created the fake profile of Dunn’s mom in order to extort Andersen. Both victims fell for this trap that could have all been avoided if they decided to talk on the phone at least one time before meeting. Chartier also arranged the meeting between the two…

The Heat Taking A Chance

heat birdman andersen
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

While all of this was going on, Chris Andersen and his lawyers were in the dark. No NBA team had the guts to sign him until his name was cleared. All Andersen knew was that his reputation was on the line. That’s when the struggling defending champs, the Miami Heat gave him a call.

The Heat didn’t know all that was going on either, but they gave Birdman a chance by offering him a ten-day contract. He ended up staying with the team that season and the Miami Heat would win the championship with his help.

Heading To Prison

locked up Chartier
Mike/Pinterest
Mike/Pinterest

While Andersen was on his great run with the Miami Heat, his lawyers called and gave him the great news. They said he was vindicated! Over in Canada, Chartier was escorted from her home in cuffs, the first time she had left in years. She received one-year prison time and two years of probation. She was also barred from using the internet.

Once she finished her time, she ended up meeting her husband online playing Xbox (how she played is still unclear). Chartier cannot enter America because Colorado has warrants out for her arrest. If she gets convicted, she could face 24 years in prison. Her husband who lives in New York can only visit her on occasion.

Allen Iverson Was Arrested At 17-Years-Old

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MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images
MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images

When Allen Iverson was 17 years old, he and three friends were at a bowling alley when all heck broke loose. The story goes Iverson and his friends were asked to quiet down several times. They didn’t, and a fight followed.

Iverson was arrested for the incident and charged with “maiming by mob.” He was tried as an adult. The judge sentenced the young man to 15 years in prison for his participation in the bowling alley brawl.

Iverson Only Served Four Months Of His Sentence

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Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

As luck would have it, Iverson’s prison sentence ended four months after it started. The governor of Virginia, Douglas Wilder, granted the 17-year-old clemency. Shortly after his release, his conviction was overturned by a court of appeals.

The court cited a lack of sufficient evidence from the original conviction. Still, Iverson’s time in prison cost him his senior year of high school with his friends. He was forced to finish up his final year at a high school for troubled youth.

He Was a Remarkable High School Athlete

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TOM MIHALEK/AFP/Getty Images
TOM MIHALEK/AFP/Getty Images

Before Iverson was arrested and sent to Richard Milburn High School, he attended Bethel High School. There, he was a star athlete, using his athleticism to master football and basketball.

His junior year was his peak. He led both his football and basketball teams to the Virginia State Championships. The Associated Press was so impressed with Iverson that he was named the High School Player of the Year for both sports! The achievement was truly incredible and showed the potential he had.

Growing Up Without a Dad Wasn’t Easy On Him

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Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

With any troubled youth, people who knew Iverson were quick to find possible reasons for his behavior. The most prominent theory is that growing up without a dad had a devastating impact on the young man.

On top of his father leaving before he was born, his mother was just 15 years old at the time. Because of this, Ann gave her son her maiden name instead of his absentee father’s last name. Growing up wasn’t easy for Allen, and his immature antics off the court might be a reflection of that.

Ann Iverson Saved Allen’s Career

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TOM MIHALEK/AFP/Getty Images
TOM MIHALEK/AFP/Getty Images

After his junior year accomplishments, universities across the country were knocking down Iverson’s door to offer him scholarships. When he was arrested, all the attention suddenly stopped and Allen’s career looked dead in the water.

Desperate to save her son’s dream, Ann Iverson showed up at Georgetown and begged the school’s basketball coach to take a chance on him. The coach, John Thompson, was impressed and after doing some research on Allen, offered him a full ride scholarship to play basketball for him.

Iverson Lifted Georgetown To Great Heights

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Staff/Getty Images
Staff/Getty Images

His first year at Georgetown, Allen Iverson led the team to the Sweet Sixteen bracket of March Madness. They lost, but he was named the Big East Rookie of the Year.

The next season Iverson lifted Georgetown to the Elite Eight round of the tournament. That was as far as Georgetown would get, and that was all Iverson had to give them. After the end of his sophomore year the college star declared for the NBA Draft.

He Was Drafted Ahead of Kobe Bryant

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Pinterest
Pinterest

A character concern coming out of high school, Iverson appeared to clean up his image at Georgetown. The Philadelphia 76ers were so impressed with him they drafted him with the first overall pick in 1996.

For perspective, that same draft saw Kobe Bryant taken 13th overall and Ray Allen taken fifth overall. His rookie year in Philly was a smashing success. Iverson averaged 23.5 points per game and was named the Rookie of the Year.

Trouble Came for Iverson Again In the Offseason

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YouTube
YouTube

Everything was finally looking up for Allen Iverson. His rookie year in the NBA was one of the best ever. Sitting on top of the world, Iverson didn’t see this next blow coming.

During the offseason he was pulled over for speeding. Police found drugs and weapons in his car during the traffic stop and he was arrested. Luckily, the star was only given 100 hours of community service along with probation. This new incident was only a hint of things to come.

Before Another Fall, Iverson Signed a Massive Contract

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Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Despite his off-court behavior, Philadelphia signed Allen Iverson to a six-year, $70 million contract extension after his third season. The offer came after he won his first of four career scoring titles.

In 2001, Iverson was named the league’s Most Valuable Player. His team reached the NBA Finals but lost to Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. On top off all his success, Reebok signed Iverson to a lifetime shoe deal that guaranteed him $800,000 a year for the rest of his life.

Philly Unloaded the Brinks Truck Again In 2003

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Jeff Fusco/Getty Images for Reebok
Jeff Fusco/Getty Images for Reebok

With his first contract extension coming to a close in 2003, Philadelphia again backed up the Brinks truck to keep their star. Iverson signed shiny new six-year, $76 million contract. Including his rookie contract, Iverson had earned over $150 million.

When you include his deal with Reebok in his total earning, Iverson was well over $200 million by the end of his NBA career. Of course, living his life as fast as he did, who knows how much of it he ended up spending.

Iverson Went Broke

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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Like we said, Allen Iverson lived a fast life. Almost as quickly as his bank account rose to over $200 million it fell back down to zero. He was addicted to drinking and gambling; two very expensive habits.

Iverson’s behavior and spending were so unhinged that he held outstanding debts at several casinos. Other establishments across the United States banned the NBA star for his reckless and drunken behavior. It’s not easy going broke with hundreds of millions of dollars, but Iverson found a way.

He Kicked His Wife Out of the House Naked

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John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Growing up without a father ensured Iverson would be a part of his kid’s lives. He married Tawanna Turner in 2001. The couple already had two kids. After getting married, they had three more.

Being a family man wasn’t easy for Iverson. One year into his marriage the couple got into a domestic dispute and Iverson kicked Tawanna out. Did we mention she wasn’t wearing clothes at the time? Years later in divorce court, Tawanna would drop a bomb that would return the favor.

His Spending Habits Threatened His Marriage

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Thaddaeus McAdams/FilmMagic
Thaddaeus McAdams/FilmMagic

Already low on money, Iverson overdrew his bank account by $23,000 dollars one day. What was so important that he needed the money? He spent a total of $23,255 visiting a jewelry store, a hotel, and a steakhouse.

Seriously? Even worse, Tawanna then had to sell her own belongings to pay for their kid’s school tuitions and rent. One of the pieces she sold was an 8.47 carat diamond ring. Tawanna was fed up and and made a decision that was a long time coming.

Tawanna Handed Allen $61 For a Cheeseburger

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Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/UIG via Getty Images
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/UIG via Getty Images

In 2012, Tawanna Iverson and Allen Iverson were in the middle of a divorce proceeding when things got heated. Iverson yelled, “I don’t even have money for a cheeseburger!” Tawanna pulled $61 out of her wallet and handed it to him.

What followed was a full disclosure of Iverson’s finances. He claimed he was earning $72,000 a month. His expenses tripled that amount at $360,000 a month. Things looked really bad, but somehow Reebok expected this to happen.

Reebok Had An “Insurance Policy” For Iverson

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VCG/VCG via Getty Images
VCG/VCG via Getty Images

As part of his lifetime deal with Reebok, Iverson agreed to take more than just $800,000 a year. The company set aside a trust fund to pay him $32 million when he turned 55. The smart move wound up saving Iverson’s bacon!

Iverson’s financial future was no longer in question, but he still had a troubled marriage with his wife. In a last ditch effort to save his marriage, the star did something drastic with his newly filled bank account.

Iverson Put All $32 Million On The Line For His Marriage

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Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Reebok
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Reebok

Allen Iverson took his $32 million from Reebok and put it all on the line to save his marriage. He signed a post-nuptial agreement that stated if he violated any of its stipulations, he would forfeit every penny to Tawanna.

So what exactly were the stipulations? Iverson wasn’t allowed to abuse Tawanna physically or verbally, he needed to go to therapy for his addictions, he needed to attend marriage counseling, and he couldn’t cheat. Sounds easy to us.

Of Course He Couldn’t Stay Clean

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Stephen Brashear/BIG3/Getty Images
Stephen Brashear/BIG3/Getty Images

Allen Iverson didn’t just break one of his post-nuptial stipulations. That would have been too easy. Instead, he took the hard route and broke them all. Tawanna filed for divorce in 2013 and was awarded all the money.

Iverson’s story doesn’t end here, though. He wasn’t the brightest youth in the world, but as luck would have it he did do one thing as a young man that would would help make everything okay again.

Luck Saved The Day

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TOM MIHALEK/AFP/Getty Images
TOM MIHALEK/AFP/Getty Images

Let’s go back to high school. Allen Iverson fell in love with a woman there. Her name? Tawanna Turner. Iverson would go on to marry Turner and have five children with her.

When Iverson broke the stipulations, Tawanna took the money, but not all of it. Out of the kindness of her heart, and probably the love she still had for Allen, she allowed him to keep half. These days, Iverson seems to be happier than he’s ever been