WRAL Investigates

Online dating leads to extortion case, fraud plea

Posted April 4, 2011

— A Henderson woman has admitted to blackmailing a Minnesota man she met through online dating service Match.com.

Anita Lavon Williams, 49, pleaded guilty last month in federal court to a charge of mail fraud. She is expected to be sentenced in June, when she faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Williams linked up with the man, identified only as C.J. in court documents, in early 2006 through Match.com. After developing an online relationship, she convinced him to take some nude photos of himself and send them to her.

She then used the photos to extort money from him. Bank records show dozens of wire transfers, each worth thousands of dollars, were sent in 2008 from Minnesota to accounts in Henderson and Winston-Salem, where Williams' children had accounts, and Petersburg, Va., where Williams' boyfriend lived.

Williams also used various aliases in the scheme, including "April Shoulders," "Betty Davis" and even "Beverly Purdue," according to court records.

Even after FBI agents arrested her two years ago, Williams e-mailed C.J. again, looking for money, according to court records.

As part of her plea agreement, Williams agreed to forfeit about $7,700 in cash that authorities seized from her home in Henderson, as well as $500 that was in a home in Petersburg and $300 from a BB&T account. She also surrendered seven computers and other electronics.

Williams, who couldn't be reached for comment, also had an account on a racy site, AdultFriendFinder.com, and used the same aliases there to meet unsuspecting men, federal authorities said.

Anita Williams' online dating profile Online dating leads to extortion case, fraud plea

Her profiles are no longer listed on Match.com and AdultFriendFinder.com, but WRAL Investigates found an active account on Hi5.com, another social site, that matches her name, hometown and age.

Mark Bredle, a dating coach who runs Modern Approach Dating Education in Raleigh, said online dating is an easy and somewhat anonymous way to find a soul mate but that free dating websites attract scammers.

"You never know what you're going to get," Bredle said. "There are a lot of cases of extortion."

Online profiles that appear under various names but have the same photo and similar background information is an easy red flag to spot, he said. If such a profile vanishes under one name and appears again under another, he said, that also should set off an alarm.

Bredle compared online dating with meeting someone in person. The key is to go slow and not give information or pictures to anyone before you are sure how they will be used, he said.

"Don't send nude photos," he said. "Men and women will do it and get blackmailed with those photos."


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  • evlknvl52 Apr 11, 2011

    heres a link to the site: http://www.madeducation.com

  • golorealist Apr 5, 2011

    "I am confused why this would cause him to feel he needed to send money. I would say so what, you have a pic of me naked. Big deal, put in on a billboard for all I care. " - biguncfan

    yeah, i don't get it.considering he lives in minnesota, how could she ever publicize this in a manner that could harm his reputation. i would have laughed in her face.

  • BigUNCFan Apr 5, 2011

    I am confused why this would cause him to feel he needed to send money. I would say so what, you have a pic of me naked. Big deal, put in on a billboard for all I care.

    In fact even if I wanted to hide it from my family and friends, I could just say she photoshopped it and it was not real if she sent it to people I know. Besides, if I met her on line, how would she know how to get in touch with those people?

    He must have been pretty stupid because the first time she threatened me, I would go to the cops. I would have never sent her money. Some people are just dumb.

  • numbercruncher Apr 5, 2011

    I met my husband on 9 years ago on Match.com. We have been married for 6.5 years and have 2 wonderful children together. As with any other aspect of dating, you need to use some common sense and go with those gut feelings that say something isn't quite right.

  • ncguy Apr 5, 2011

    should have just sent her a Brett Favre pic,
    can't really be identified like that-

  • anonemoose Apr 5, 2011

    I met my wife on Match, back when it was Kiss. I was doing a lot of meeting online and I had the ability to do some background before meeting somebody.

    So now here we are 7 years later...Looking to build a bigger house and looking forward to motorcycle trips together.

  • ifgraceisanocean Apr 5, 2011

    Hokiedokie, I'm with you. I actually met my husband on Match.com, and we've been together for 6 years, so in some cases, it really works. He was my first and only date on there, so it worked well for me. It's just that people are always looking for ways to get something for nothing, so they don't have to work hard for a living. That's just sad, but it seems to be the norm nowadays.

  • shawnwilliams159 Apr 5, 2011

    Truly Forest Gump said it right. Stupid is as stupid does. A dating coach? too funny. Proof positive that a fool and his money are soon parted.

  • RomneyRyan2012 Apr 4, 2011

    Ohhh the stories I could tell about online dating. I met my guy online and we've been together for over a year but OMG I met some real strange people on line.

  • rcso29 Apr 4, 2011

    do like she did...dont send her your pictures