Scammer Who Claimed to Be an Irish Heiress Should Be Extradited to UK, Judge Rules

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
May 11, 2024UK
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Scammer Who Claimed to Be an Irish Heiress Should Be Extradited to UK, Judge Rules
Johnathan Walton and Marianne Smyth pose during her tree trimming Christmas party in Los Angeles in December 2013. (Johnathan Walton via AP)

PORTLAND, Maine—A convicted scammer who claimed to be an Irish heiress and who is accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from several victims should be extradited to the United Kingdom, a federal court has ruled.

Marianne Smyth, who accusers say has also fashioned herself as a witch, a psychic, and a friend to Hollywood stars, has been in a Maine jail waiting to learn if she will be extradited. She faces allegations that she stole more than $170,000 from the victims from 2008 to 2010 in Northern Ireland.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John Nivison ruled on Thursday that there is sufficient evidence to certify Ms. Smyth’s extradition to the UK to face charges. Judge Nivison wrote that Ms. Smyth will be in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending a decision on extradition by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

An attorney for Ms. Smyth, who has declined to comment in the past, did not respond to phone calls and emails on Thursday. The judge’s ruling that Ms. Smyth should be extradited could help bring about the end of a bizarre saga in which victims have painted Ms. Smyth as a master of disguise and a veteran traveling grifter.

Ms. Smyth faces four counts of fraud by abuse of position under the UK Fraud Act of 2006, and four counts of theft in violation of Northern Ireland’s Theft Act of 1969, Judge Nivison wrote. Authorities overseas have 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 in Northern Ireland issued arrest warrants for her earlier this decade.

“The evidence presented regarding Ms. Smyth’s interactions with and transactions involving the individuals … is sufficient to sustain the four fraud charges and the four theft charges that are the subject of the extradition request,” Judge Nivison wrote.

Ms. Smyth’s case is similar in some respects to that of Anna Sorokin, a scammer who was convicted of paying for her lifestyle by impersonating a German heiress. Ms. Smyth’s victims included Johnathan Walton, a podcaster who warned others of Ms. Smyth’s grifts. Ms. Smyth was found guilty of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from Mr. Walton and spent about two years in jail.

The two had grown close in Los Angeles, and Ms. Smyth told Mr. Walton she was due an inheritance of $7 million from her wealthy Irish family, but Ms. Smyth’s story began to fall apart when Mr. Walton learned she was jailed for stealing $200,000 from a travel agency she worked for. Mr. Walton used his podcast to gather tips from Ms. Smyth’s other accusers. Some of those accusers said Ms. Smyth started a fake charity and others said she posed as everything from a cancer patient to Jennifer Aniston’s best friend.

Ms. Smyth, who is in fact American, was found and arrested in Maine in February.

By Patrick Whittle

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