BANGOR — A con artist from Bangor is now behind bars in California thanks to a reality tv producer.
“I was the victim of the oldest con in the book — the inheritance scam. But the way it was served up to me is very different than how it’s normally served up by a Nigerian prince through a sketchy email,” said Johnathan Walton, a Hollywood producer scammed by a former Bangor woman.
In 1987, Marianne Andle graduated from Bangor High School. She went on to be an international con artist and was brought to justice by Walton, who spent more than $20,000 to have her investigated after he was scammed. When they met she was using one of her 25 aliases — Marianne or “Mair” Smyth, an Irish heiress.
“When somebody picks a phone up and says, ‘Oh look who just texted me this,’ you believe them, right? There is not a part of your brain that says, ‘Hey, I wonder if they’re making up an identity to text themselves and then show people to try and sell a story.’ That never occurs to you,” Walter said.
Smyth took the producer for shows like “American Ninja Warrior” and “Shark Tank” for nearly $100,000.
“The minute I found out I was conned I told everybody. I started a blog. I tried to get news coverage. Because … in the same way that silver bullets kill werewolves and wooden stakes kill vampires, publicity kills con artists,” Walton said.
Before moving to California, Smyth was all over the place.
“She has quite the criminal record. She has felonies in Tennessee, Florida. She’s got victims in Michigan, New York, Maine and Northern frick-en Ireland,” the reality tv producer said.
“Shortly after starting my blog, I get a call from a police detective in Northern Ireland saying, ‘I’ve been looking for this woman for 10 years. She’s got 26 victims she’s scammed out of $500,000 over here,'” Walton said, adding, “After she gets out of jail in Los Angeles, they’re taking her to Northern Ireland to face charges over there.”
Walton found other “marks” after discovering the scam.
“I found dozens of other victims. While she was scamming me, she was scamming them. She masqueraded as a psychologist. … She worked as a psychic and scammed people that way,” Walton said. “She told our building manager she had cancer. She got out of paying five months in rent.
“Who lies about having cancer? Come to find out, I talked to her family and she ran this cancer scam in Bangor, Maine,” he added.
Smyth was convicted of grand theft in Los Angeles during January 2019 and was sentenced to five years behind bars.
“It was worth it. To get that guilty verdict and see her led off to jail in shackles, it was worth it,” Walton said.
Walton is working on a documentary or book and wants to hear from anyone who believes they were scammed by Smyth. His email is [email protected]