Woman's online boyfriend ends up being ex-husband allegedly masquerading as another man


One of the risks of online dating is that you can never be totally sure that person you're exchanging messages with really is who they say they are. (Or looks in real life like they do in their profile pictures, but that's another story.)

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According to charges filed in Dakota County, a West St. Paul woman recently learned that lesson the hard way when she discovered her online boyfriend was really her estranged and allegedly violent ex-husband.

Brian Cornelius, a 36-year-old Sturgeon Lake resident, allegedly pretended to be a man by the name of "Aaron Carpenter" on the interwebs and struck it up with his ex. According to the complaint, she "confided intimate details of her life and daily activities" with Carpenter, including letting him see her on a webcam and discussing the troubles she was having with Cornelius.

In the spring of 2012, Carpenter even persuaded her to skip a court date during which she planned to seek an order of protection from Cornelius, who allegedly assaulted her earlier that year.

Cornelius and the woman were married from 2000 to 2011. They have two young children.

The Pioneer Press, citing comments made by West St. Paul Investigator Shawna Curtis and the complaint, reports that the woman "pieced the situation together [in August 2012] after Cornelius started showing up in places she told Carpenter she would be."

"Carpenter also started saying things only Cornelius would know," the PiPress report continues. "Cornelius's ex-wife confronted him with her suspicions, and he admitted to using images from Google and Facebook to create the online persona of Carpenter."

On Tuesday, Cornelius was charged with two counts of misdemeanor stalking. Since he hasn't been booked into jail, no mugshot is available.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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