For close to a year and a half, Miami Heat star Chris "Birdman" Andersen was dealing with accusations of child pornography – charges that almost derailed his NBA career, before he joined the Heat in January.
But it turns out it was an elaborate Internet hoax that spanned two countries and ended up with a woman in Canada arrested.
Andersen’s attorney says Andersen was the victim, and prosecutors have cleared him of any wrongdoing.
The alleged scam started in Easterville, Manitoba, a town with a population of 45 according to the 2011 census.
Shelly Chartier, 29, is accused of creating a fake Facebook profile of Andersen and using it to start a romance with a 17-year-old girl in California, using the information the girl sent back.
Chartier is also accused of creating another false account, this time of the girl – and using it to start a romance with the real Birdman, who was playing for the Denver Nuggets at the time.
She was catfishing – creating the illusion of direct contact through the two fake accounts that she controlled.
Chartier used them to solicit nude photos of the girl, that she allegedly then used in an attempt to extort Birdman for cash.
It resulted in a child pornography investigation at his Colorado home. The Denver Nuggets dropped Andersen, and his attorney says his reputation was sullied.
"I don't think we've grasped that somebody, that yeah we’ve learned is a bit – not a bit, a complete hermit inside of a house, picked him out … reached across the world and put this tag on him,” lawyer Mark Bryant said.
Chartier faces charges of extortion, identity fraud and possession and transmission of child pornography in Canada. More charges in the U.S. are expected.
"We're midstream in our investigation,” said Sgt. Line Karpish of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.