SHERMAN, Texas - An admitted con man and phony war hero who’s been accused of scamming women across the country will serve 24 years in prison after a group of victims banded together to take him down.

KARE 11 has been following the story of Derek Alldred for two years. Multiple Minnesota women say he met them online using false identities and stole their hearts, their money and their trust.

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KARE 11 investigative reporter Lauren Leamanczyk followed three of those Minnesota women to Texas as they faced him in court. They asked KARE 11 not to use their last names to protect their privacy.

“Surreal,” Joann said as she walked into court surrounded by alleged victims from across the country. “I can’t really believe it.”

“It’s about time,” said Missi.

Joann, Linda and Missi all met Alldred while he was pretending to be someone else. His ruses were so sophisticated, women across the country say he got away with it for more than a decade.

Posed as war hero and lawyer

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When Linda met him, Alldred was posing as a Navy Seal named Richard Peterson. He had the military uniforms and ID’s, even a fake Purple Heart and Silver Star. She showed them to KARE 11 when she first told her story in 2016.

Eventually, she says, Alldred gained access to her accounts and cleaned them out. She claims he took $200,000, including her 401K. It was “everything I had,” she said.

Alldred used the same identity when he met Missi. She showed KARE 11 the fake military dog tags she says he wore everywhere.

Joann says Alldred claimed he was an attorney named Derek Allarad when she met him two years earlier.

“I was on Cloud Nine, I really thought this was the guy,” she said. Then she discovered he opened a credit card in her name to pay for a luxe trip to Hawaii. “I was devastated,” she said.

Before that, records show he allegedly conned a Minnesota doctor, sticking her with a bill at the St. Paul Hotel. Worse, she said in court, he took money from her medical practice, destroying it. The cost, she told the judge, was hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And there are others.

Although some of the women filed police reports, Alldred usually got away with it. For more than a decade, he crisscrossed the country using a variety of names.

KARE 11 heard from women in Hawaii, California, Nevada, Arizona, Minnesota until finally, in Texas, he made his ultimate mistake.

Finally caught in Texas

Alldred’s mistake was trying to scam a woman named Dorie while posing as a Navy pilot.

“Don’t mess with Texas. Don’t mess with Dorie,” she told KARE 11.

Dorie discovered Alldred’s true identity after dating him for six weeks. She says she found KARE 11’s investigation online and connected with the other women determined to bring Alldred down.

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“I vowed that day, it’s got to stop,” she said.

Dorie contacted police in The Colony, Texas – her hometown – and they took action. They walked Alldred into jail in handcuffs on local theft charges. But they took the extra step of contacting federal investigators for the U.S. Navy.

NCIS Special Agent Mike Elkheir got the case. When he saw Alldred’s rap sheet and history, he says he was stunned.

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“Most of the women have felt neglected by the justice system,” he said. “At some point you can’t kick the can down the road,” he added. “It was time to do my job and bring Derek to justice.”

Elkheir says in 15 years as an investigator he has never encountered a con man quite as convincing as Derek Alldred. “It’s all an act. And he’s really good at it and I think that’s why he’s got away with it for so long,” he said.

But not this time.

“The madness has to stop”

In a federal courthouse in Sherman, Texas Judge Amos Mazzant heard victim statements from eight women and one man. He received letters from others.

They called Alldred “a psychopath”, “a career criminal” and “pure evil.” One woman said she became homeless as a result of his deception. Others testified they suffer from PTSD.

Speaking to the judge, Alldred apologized. “I’m mortified. I’m embarrassed. I’m ashamed and I’m sorry,” he said. “I hope the victims can have some peace now.”

“The madness has to stop,” Mazzant said. He sentenced Alldred to 24 years in federal prison and said he wished he had the option to give him even more time. Alldred will be in his 70’s when he gets out.

Missi, Linda, Joann, Dorie and others were in tears as the verdict was read.

“Justice,” Missi said after court.

Linda said they weren’t asking for money. “We were asking to protect women from him,” she said.

Dorie said, at last, they were all heard.

“I think this is a new chapter, new beginnings in our lives,” Joann said.

Many of the women are still dealing with the financial and emotional damage they say Alldred caused.

But they are glad this fake war hero’s days of preying on women are over.