The anonymous woman decided to drive from her downstate home to Traverse City to attend the sentencing of a man she had never met.
Miss Fortune, as she calls herself on her blog, “Glistening, Quivering Underbelly,” had developed quite a relationship with David Lee Hunter, convicted scam artist.
She followed the case against him and his subsequent flight from the state to a level that got Hunter’s attention -- he became a disgruntled commenter on her blog while he was on the run. She said he threatened her in an effort to get her to stop writing about him.
Hunter was just one of numerous topics Miss Fortune landed upon since she began her blog in 2011. The posts about Hunter attracted others who had things to say about the Charlevoix man.
Miss Fortune heard from other people who had complaints about Hunter’s behavior to the point that she was able to track his travel across the country, helping Traverse City Police detectives get Hunter back in jail.
On Oct. 25, Hunter, 39, was sentenced to 23 months to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to fraud.
The Northern Express caught up with Miss Fortune while she was in town and had a chat about Hunter and her blog.
Northern Express: What’s the name of your online persona and why don’t you want to tell me your real name?
Miss Fortune: My online name is Miss Fortune. I prefer not to reveal my true name simply because I write about a lot of sensitive issues and I don’t want to expose myself or anyone in my family to any kind of danger or harm.
Express: What do you want to say about your background and how did you get into doing this?
Fortune: I have spent quite a few years in advertising and marketing, I spent almost 10 years in New York City and about that same amount of time in the suburban Detroit area.
I’ve always been interested in underreported stories; stories that people don’t hear a lot about or read a lot about. I wasn’t able to find information about certain things so I just decided, why not start doing it myself? I mean, I have in a sense been a content provider, being in advertising.
Express: A lot of the stories you write about originate in Traverse City. You are not currently based in Traverse City. What’s your connection to Northern Michigan?
Fortune: I’ve long wanted to move to Traverse City and I do have friends here and I have done some work with companies in the area. And that’s my goal -- to move here.
Express: One of the Traverse City stories that’s found your snare is the case of a man, David Lee Hunter, who was charged with fraud in Grand Traverse County for renting out a house he didn’t own to unsuspecting people. He was charged and then he skipped town. How did you decide to start writing about him?
Fortune: Last fall I had been looking at some additional stories to write about, just kind of pulling some ideas and seeing what was happening, not taking a story that somebody else had written and mimicking it, but just saying, ‘Gee, do I have questions about something else?’ And I had read David Hunter’s story and what struck me about it was that a classic Craigslist rental scam is usually done online or at arms’ length, but he allegedly rented a home --
Express: I don’t think it’s ‘allegedly’ anymore.
Fortune: I know. Alright, let’s just put it out -- he pled guilty. He rented a home and then held an open house and he rented it out to six people or parties as if he owned it, which I thought was extremely brazen.
And I kept coming back and thinking, ‘Gee, I can’t really find too much about this guy, other than a local television reporter from a few years before who interviewed him when he claimed to have had a ruptured aneurism. And knowing that normally when you have an aneurism that ruptures it means you’re dead, it just kept tickling the back of my mind. I thought, let me just write a little story about him and see what happens.
Express: And then after you posted something online, the information you had began to snowball.
Fortune: Probably about two months after I wrote the original story, I received an email from a woman in Washington state who said, ‘I think the guy you wrote about is staying with my sister and brother-in-law and scamming them.’ And it turned out it was David Hunter.
He had stayed with this family in Vancouver, and they had known each other and they had all lived in Hawaii and stayed in touch casually over the years. Out of the blue Dave calls up and says, ‘Gee, I’m going to be passing through, can I stop by and stay for a couple of days?’ They didn’t know anything was going on. They didn’t realize that he was basically on the run and their was a warrant out for his arrest (in Grand Traverse County.)
Express: And then you followed Hunter to California and Hawaii. You followed some of his business ventures as he was on the run, which looked pretty shady. He was promoting a concert in South Africa? How did you keep track of what he was up to?
Fortune: He claimed to be working with people who were in Cape Town, South Africa, working to put together entertainers and financing for a music festival that was supposed to be held this December in Cape Town. And he was posting this on his Facebook page.
As more stories were written about him, more people started coming out of the woodwork and saying, ‘Oh, he scammed me, too, and this is what he did.’ So I was getting screen captures (of Hunter’s Facebook page) saying, you know, ‘I signed a contract with Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj and we’re going to fly everybody down on the plane together,’ and I’m thinking, this doesn’t even make sense. This guy doesn’t even have a credit card. How can he be putting together all of these things? And so I started writing about them and that raised his ire and he ultimately started to comment directly on the blog.
Express: And while he was commenting on your blog, you were in touch with the Traverse City Police, who were looking for him
Fortune: Yes. I was initially in contact with the prosecutor’s office who put me in touch with Detective Evan Warsecke, who was working the case. We’ve only had email contact, and he said, ‘When you do have a tip or a lead, forward it to me.’ So things were going on back-and-fourth until probably about mid June, when I heard from the director of security at the Sheraton Waikiki who said. ‘Hey, this guy was at our hotel bar and he tried to walk away from a check. I checked him out online and I found your blog.’ So we exchanged a few emails and then he wasn’t around the resort in Hawaii anymore and I kind of lost track of him.
Express: And then he turned up in Chicago.
Fortune: I realized he was in Chicago. I had gotten an email from somebody through the blog who said, ‘Hey, I’m friends with a woman, and it looks like she’s going to Chicago to meet David Lee Hunter. It looks like he’s coming in from Hawaii.’ And so he started sending me Facebook screen captures, which I forwarded to the detective.
And finally the woman posted a picture, and she said that she was at the Aloft O’Hare Airport hotel. I called the hotel and asked for Hunter and they said, ‘Hold on, please,’ like they were going to switch me to the room. So I just hung up.
I waited a day and I heard from my tipster and he said ‘there’s no activity on Hunter’s Facebook page, I wonder if something is happening.’ I kept checking the Cook County Jail inmate database and on July 16, low and behold, boop, there he was.
Express: And since then he’s been returned to jail in Grand Traverse County and sent to prison. And this just started out as a small blog post about somebody you found interesting because of the way he was approaching the scam he was doing.
Fortune: Yeah. It seemed like sort of an outsized way to do it. He was so confident that he could actually look at his victim and say, ‘Oh, yeah, this is my house.’ The things that interested me about David Hunter were the complicated ways he’d put together his schemes. He claimed at one point to be the executive producer of the Marvin Gaye biopic. He claimed to be the head of an entertainment company. He claimed to be the head of an apparel company. And he had all of these almost official-looking documents, but when you look at them a little closer, you can see that they’re basically a patchwork, when you misspell certain words, and certain things are not right. But to the casual observer it looked legitimate.
Those are the things that interested me.
That somebody who grew up in a really small town in Northern Michigan, who didn’t go past high school, was really that smart.
Check out the Glistening, Quivering Underbelly blog at: http:// glisteningquiveringunderbelly.blogspot. com