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'Queen of the Con' Faces Extradition From Maine

Alleged fake heiress may have to answer 15-year-old fraud charges in Northern Ireland
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2024 12:14 PM CDT
Anna Sorokin Has Competition in 'Queen of the Con'
Johnathan Walton and Marianne Smyth pose in a December 2013 photo taken in Los Angeles.   (Johnathan Walton via AP, File)

An American woman dubbed the "Queen of the Con" is facing extradition to the UK to stand trial for what is said to be one of many alleged fraud schemes carried out over decades. Marianne 'Mair' Smyth, 54, previously served time in California after she was found to have scammed a TV producer out of nearly $100,000. The victim, Johnathan Walton, launched a podcast, "Queen of the Con: The Irish Heiress," in which he sought to warn others of her exploits. He told stories of Smyth posing as Jennifer Aniston, an NHL coach, and a cancer patient, per the Guardian. He also claimed Smyth had convinced five people to hand over $172,000 while working as a mortgage adviser in Northern Ireland around 2009.

Smyth was to invest the money, but allegedly kept it for herself, per NBC News. Just before she was to be arrested, she fled—but only after killing a bunch of dogs that were living with her, according to a podcast interview with Smyth's daughter, per the Guardian. Walton met Smyth years later in Los Angeles. He said he gave her $100,000, which she claimed she needed to secure an inheritance worth millions. He later learned she'd pleaded guilty in 2016 to stealing $200,000 from a travel agency that employed her. In Walton's case, she was convicted of grand theft by false pretense and handed a five-year prison sentence in 2019. She was freed in December 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Walton's podcast came out less than a year later.

A podcast listener reportedly informed Walton that Smyth was now residing in Bingham, Maine. Walton relayed the information to police in Northern Ireland, who worked with US authorities to secure Smyth's Feb. 23 arrest. Prosecutors have alleged Smyth was continuing to scam people, this time posing as a satanic high priestess, per the Guardian. The AP compares her to infamous fake heiress Anna Sorokin of Netflix fame. US Magistrate Judge John Nivison on Thursday approved her extradition to Northern Ireland to face fraud and theft charges, which could result in decades in prison. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has the final say on the extradition. In the meantime, Smyth remains held in Piscataquis County Jail. (More fraud stories.)

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