Men Allegedly Used ID Theft to Woo Women

ByLisa Fletcher and Bill Cunningham via via logo

June 23, 2008 — -- Tammi McCreary's and Eric Perteet's love story was fast, thrilling and passionate. The pair met at a party and within a month Perteet proposed to McCreary.

The two honeymooned in the Bahamas.

"I thought I had the perfect marriage," McCreary said.

Afterward, Perteet moved into McCreary's Atlanta home and even got a job at a local hospital -- or so she thought.

"Every day when I dropped him off, he always had on scrubs with the hospital's logo," McCreary said.

But the newlywed couple's bliss was short lived.

Perteet was arrested on May 18 at Piedmont Hospital, after security staff found him in the emergency room dressed in those scrubs his wife always saw him wearing.

"He had been arrested for impersonating a doctor," McCreary said.

According to an Atlanta police report, he allegedly had been hanging around the hospital in waiting rooms, doctors' lounges and the library for at least six weeks, and had allegedly stolen hospital property including a cellphone, a doctor's on-call pager, an electronic door swipe card and vial of drugs to make him look more like a doctor.

Though Perteet told McCreary he was an electrical engineer with a medical degree, police contend he actually was a fraud. Authorities accused him of identify fraud and said he pretended to be a doctor to woo women.

Soon McCreary, 38, realized everything she thought she knew about her new spouse was a fabrication. While they were dating, Perteet, 27, told her he was divorced and had recently lost his family in a car crash.

"I just felt compassion for him and just wanted to be there for him," McCreary said.

She learned that in fact, Perteet's family was alive and well. Then she discovered he previously had been convicted of depositing bad checks and that he had faked medical school transcripts and death certificates.

"I was in tears. I didn't know what to believe," McCreary said.

Even in jail, Perteet refused to admit to any wrongdoing, insisting to McCreary he was telling the truth.

"He still held on with his story that he is a physician," said McCreary, who was married twice before she met Perteet.

McCreary's tale sounds eerily familiar to Noelle Stehling, who thought she found her Mr. Right on the dating Web site

That's how she met Paul Kreuger, who said he was music engineer and business man. He claimed he had been nominated for several Grammy Awards.

"He was very attentive and that made me feel very special," the California resident said.

While he romanced Stehling over long-distance phone calls, Kreuger offered to invest Stehling's money in stock options. Though they had never met in person, she wired him $10,000.

"I felt like I knew him because I spent so much time with him on the phone. I wasn't thinking, obviously. I was feeling," Stehling said. "I didn't ask enough questions."

When the two finally did meet in Atlantic City, N.J., Kreuger looked nothing like the picture he had sent her. Stehling barely recognized the 50-year-old man.

"He looked a lot different — a little bit older, a little bit heavier," Stehling said.

But Kreuger's appearance wouldn't be her only surprised. Police called Stehling and said Kreuger was accused of defrauding 13 victims, including Stehling herself, for more than $100,000. Authorities told her that his entire life story as she knew it was fiction.

"I confronted Paul. I wanted to know what did he get me into. And I was scared," Stehling said.

Kreuger assured her that nothing was wrong and that he'd return her money. He never did.

He was arrested in May and currently is in jail in Montgomery County, Pa., awaiting arraignment on charges including theft by unlawful taking or disposition, theft by deception, deceptive or fraudulent business practices and violations of the Pennsylvania Securities Act.

"I actually feel like I'm dealing with a death. I feel like I was married to someone that died," McCreary said.

Neither Perteet nor Kreuger responded to ABC News' repeated requests for comments and a spokesman for said he was saddened by what happened to Stehling. He added the company is exploring new Internet programming to help detect possible criminal backgrounds of people who use the Web site.

But any changes will come too late for Stehling, who already has changed the way she vets potential suitors.

"If I'm going to go out with a guy, I have to do a background check on everyone," Stehling said. "I think that's sad. It's pathetic."

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