BEVERLY — At 47, Liam MacLeod was unmarried and living alone in a public housing apartment in Beverly.
He had no driver's license and no car.
This is what he appeared to blame for his lack of success in the world of online dating.
"Guys unless you have a high paying job or drive a really nice car you are getting nowhere in here!" MacLeod posted on the well-known paid dating site Match.com, according to court papers. He accused the site of promoting prostitution.
But federal prosecutors say he went even further than that after a sister site, OkCupid, banned him back in September 2017.
Now, he's facing federal charges that could send him to prison for up to 15 years.
MacLeod, of 11 Chestnut Park, was arrested on Thursday, charged with mailing threatening letters containing white powder, blood, and other substances to the company that owns both websites in Texas.
MacLeod is charged with mailing threatening communications and conveying false information and hoaxes.
According to the criminal complaint, MacLeod sent nine letters to the company's corporate headquarters in Dallas between September and December 2017. The mailings contained either threatening communications and/or suspicious substances, the complaint said.
One letter, sent on Sept. 12, 2017, included a suspicious white powder along with a handwritten letter that said, "Greeting from Beverly. Ban me will ya. Welcome to the wonderful world of ANTHRAX. Expect a package within the next couple of days. It won't be ticking but it should be interesting!"
Two days later, MacLeod mailed another typewritten letter to OkCupid's CEO saying, "How'd you like what I sent you? Aww, go take a powder. Oh, the things I have in store for you! I can go on like this for years. How long can you last?," according to the court complaint.
The letter went on to say that MacLeod's father was a "Hell's Angel" and suggested that MacLeod knew where people at OkCupid park their cars. "Hmm, think of the possibilities!," the letter said.
A third envelope contained red-brown staining consistent with blood, followed by another letter indicating that the blood was infected with the AIDS virus.
"You didn’t by any chance touch the page did you?," MacLeod allegedly wrote in a fourth letter, claiming that a friend working in a lab gave him a substance that would keep a virus alive for a week.
MacLeod sent four more letters to OkCupid's CEO, each of which generated a hazmat response by federal law enforcement to rule out the presence of active biological or chemical agents, the U.S. Attorney's office said. Some included a brown substance smeared on paper. Laboratory testing confirmed the materials were not hazardous.
The company began an internal investigation after the first letter, and, based on the details included, including the author's location and a reference to being banned, identified MacLeod as the potential culprit.
The user "Liam461" had been "blacklisted" from the OkCupid site on Sept. 11 for violations of the site's terms of service, according to a postal inspector's affidavit filed in court.
The company's investigators also identified a Match account under the name "Liam46" with some of the same photos posted on it.
Both dating sites are owned by Humor Rainbow Inc., which owns a number of other online dating sites and apps, according to court papers.
Investigators were able to pull the billing information from the Match account, identifying MacLeod, as well as records showing that the same IP address in Beverly had been used to access both accounts during the summer of 2017.
Postal Inspector Michael Connelly got a warrant earlier in February and accessed MacLeod's online postings on Match, including one from September 2017, which appeared to be in response to his OkCupid dispute:
"Match Promotes prostitution!" MacLeod allegedly wrote. "Guys unless you have a high paying job or drive a really nice car you are getting nowhere in here! Try craigs (sic) the adult w4m section. You’ll find the same things you’ll find in here but for cheaper!"
Another message, sent to another user on Match, made references to the Hells Angels, as had one of the threatening letters sent to the company.
Connelly also pulled up a Massachusetts state photo identification from the Registry of Motor Vehicles for MacLeod, which appeared to be the same person in photos posted on Match, according to court papers.
Then, he conducted surveillance at the apartment complex on Feb. 23, confirming that a Liam MacLeod lived there.
Chestnut Park is a federally-funded Beverly Housing Authority administered property off Cabot Street near the intersection of Elliott Street.
The charge of false information and hoaxes provides for a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of mailing threatening letters carries a sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI Boston's Joint Terrorism Task Force, with assistance from the Beverly Police Department. Authorities said OkCupid and its parent company cooperated fully with the investigation. The U.S. Attorney's office in Boston is prosecuting the case.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.