Heat's Chris 'Birdman' Anderson Cleared in 'Double Catfishing' Hoax - Tarnished Twenty
Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

Heat's Chris 'Birdman' Anderson Cleared in 'Double Catfishing' Hoax

The Birdman shall remain cage-free. Miami Heat star Chris "Birdman" Andersen, who was embroiled in an online child pornography investigation, was actually the victim of an elaborate Internet hoax, authorities revealed Wednesday.

In what's being called a bizarre "double catfishing" scheme, a Canadian woman not only posed online as other people to communicate with Andersen, but also posed as Andersen to talk to other victims.

So basically, the Birdman got Manti Te'o-ed.

Authorities said 29-year-old Shelly Lynn Chartier, of Easterville, Manitoba, posed as Andersen to communicate with underage girls and also pretended to be other people to talk to the tatted NBA champ, reports South Florida's Sun Sentinel. The alleged hoax began in 2012, when Birdman was playing for the Denver Nuggets.

Chartier was charged with multiple crimes in Canada, including possession and transmission of child pornography, impersonation, extortion and making threats.

Though Chartier has yet to be charged in the United States, authorities in Colorado may pursue their own prosecution that could entail similar charges.

Impersonation of the Catfish Variety

People may go "catfishing" for a variety of reasons:

  • Sad catfishing. Some deal with their unresolved high school issues by pretending to be people they wish they were.
  • Creepy catfishing. As we saw in this alleged case, others "catfish" for more nefarious purposes, like to lure underage children for sexual purposes.
  • Vindictive catfishing. Like the woman who "stalked" herself to exact revenge on her ex-boyfriend, some folks "catfish" simply because they can, with the added effect of causing embarrassment to the unsuspecting victim.

Criminal Impersonation in Colorado

Sure, the alleged hoax was bizarre and messed up, but was it illegal? After all, in some states like California, it's illegal to impersonate another online.

Colorado doesn't have an online impersonation statute. However, Chartier's actions may fit within the state's felony criminal impersonation law, which prohibits a person from knowingly assuming a false or fictitious identity to perform an act that, if done by the "actual" person, might expose that person to criminal or civil liability.

In this case, Chartier's alleged impersonation wound up subjecting Anderson to liability for the very serious crime of child pornography possession.

With his legal drama "speared," Andersen can finally focus on celebrating his team's 2013 NBA Championship.

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