Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

US fraudster Marianne Smyth may have victims in Northern Ireland

Victim Johnathan Walton wants anyone from NI who may have been scammed by her to get in touch.

By Christopher Woodhouse

A serial American con artist who swindled a Los Angeles travel agency may have victims in Northern Ireland.

Marianne Smyth, who has served jail time for embezzling £155,000 from the firm, is believed to have worked as a mortgage adviser here in 2008.

One of her victims in the US, Johnathan Walton, wants to track down anyone here who thinks they may have been conned by Smyth.

The LA-based reality TV producer told Sunday Life he wants anyone who may have lost money to Smyth to help with his ongoing case against her.

He has also taken out an advert with this newspaper (below) with contact details for anyone who wishes to get in touch. Mr Walton says he was duped into lending her money with a tale of an inheritance due from her “Irish royalty” family but ended up $100,000 out of pocket. He is now pursuing her through the courts to recover the money.

“The majority of Smyth’s victims are usually too ashamed and embarrassed to come forward,” he said.

“Sharing my story and finding other victims has been so healing and therapeutic for me and makes me feel less like a victim and more like a vigilante.” He added: “The fact that I went public with my story initially on my blog and was contacted by other victims who I saved from her by publishing the truth, they were able to cut ties and not get scammed.”

Mr Walton believes she may have duped over 20 people during her time in Northern Irelandhere working as a mortgage adviser. He met Smyth in 2013 and she managed to convinced him she was due to inherit €5 million from a family trust, describing her roots as “Irish royalty”.

Smyth convinced him to pay her rent during her case for stealing $190,000 from Pacific Islands Travel in LA, which she claimed was a set-up. Mr Walton believed her tale and even paid her $4,200 bail, which she reimbursed.

Following her conviction, Smyth (below) told him that if she paid back $54,000, she would not have to serve jail time, so he lent her the money — but this was a lie. After discovering her deceit, Mr Walton engaged a private detective to find out the truth, which was that she was born in the state of Maine, not Ireland, and grew up in Tennessee.

Around 2001, Mr Walton says she moved to Northern Ireland after meeting a man from here online and worked for a mortgage firm.

He says police here have been investigating over 20 possible instances of fraud and have been in correspondence with a detective about the case. In May, Smyth appeared in court in Los Angeles on a charge of grand theft in relation to the money she scammed from him, which he estimates to be around $100,000.

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