Convicted Scammer Who Victims Say Claimed to Be Psychic, Irish Heiress Faces Extradition to UK

Convicted Scammer Who Victims Say Claimed to Be Psychic, Irish Heiress Faces Extradition to UK
Walton and Marianne "Mair" Smyth (R) pose for a selfie at her tree trimming Christmas party in downtown Los Angeles in December 2013. (Johnathan Walton via AP)

A woman accused by scam victims of crisscrossing the U.S. claiming to be an Irish heiress is expected in court Wednesday for a hearing that could extradite her to the United Kingdom.

Marianne Smyth, a 54-year-old American, will be in federal court in Maine for the hearing that relates to allegations she stole more than $170,000 from at least five victims from 2008–2010 in Northern Ireland. United Kingdom officials said Ms. Smyth stole money that she had promised to invest and arranged to sell a victim a home but took the money.

A court issued arrest warrants for her in 2021, according to legal documents. In February, she was located and arrested in Maine. She is being held in Piscataquis County Jail in Dover-Foxcroft.

In a court filing, Ms. Smyth’s attorney, Kaylee Folster, argued she was not guilty of the charges and requested a hearing on the allegations. Neither Ms. Folster nor Ms. Smyth would comment on the case.

Ms. Smyth’s case has similarities to Anna Sorokin, a grifter convicted in New York of paying for a lavish lifestyle by impersonating a wealthy German heiress.

Among those fleeced was Johnathan Walton, who started a podcast in 2021 called “Queen of the Con” to warn others about Ms. Smyth. She was found guilty of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from Mr. Walton and spent about two years in jail.

Ms. Smyth said she needed the money after her bank account was frozen and for bail after she was jailed, he said. Mr. Walton assumed he would be repaid, since Ms. Smyth told him she was due an inheritance of $7 million from her wealthy family in Ireland.

“She plays off of people’s weaknesses and then a lot of people are too embarrassed to come forward and admit that they lost this money,” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Megee, who prosecuted the case that sent Ms. Smyth to jail, said.

Ms. Smyth and Mr. Walton grew close over several years in Los Angeles, when she bought him expensive dinners and luxury vacations, he said. But her story began to unravel when Mr. Walton realized she was jailed for stealing $200,000 from a luxury travel agency where she worked.

“She has no shame. And she has no conscience,” the 49-year-old reality television producer, author, and public speaker said. “She revels in casting countless victims as unwitting actors in her elaborate schemes to defraud.”

The podcast has drawn tips from dozens of victims from California to New York, Mr. Walton said. Some have accused her of starting a fake charity for Ukraine, while others say she has described herself as an emissary for Satan, a witch, a hockey coach, a cancer patient, and best friends with Jennifer Aniston. She often changed her name and appearance, her victims say.

Heather Sladinski, a costume designer in Los Angeles, said Ms. Smyth scammed her out of $20,000 for psychic readings, fake life coach sessions, and cult-like retreats that included rituals, breathing exercises, and yoga. Ms. Smyth was funny, and smart, and had credentials and other documents to back up her claims, Ms. Sladinski said.

The 50-year-old from Los Angeles cut off contact with Ms. Smyth after she wanted to do a bizarre ritual involving a chicken to win back her ex-boyfriend, who had a restraining order against her, Ms. Sladinski said. Ms. Smyth then started making threatening phone calls and Ms. Sladinski “was so scared” that she moved homes, Ms. Sladinski said. She has filed a police report against Ms. Smyth and testified at Mr. Walton’s trial.

By Michael Casey

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.