Hollywood con artist who pretended to be Jennifer Aniston to scam cash to be EXTRADITED to UK after 'swindling 26 Brits'

A HOLLYWOOD con artist who swindled victims through elaborate scams – including posing as Jennifer Aniston – is being extradited to the UK after allegedly ripping off 26 Brits, The Sun can reveal.

Marianne Smyth, 51, is currently in jail in Los Angeles after conning $70,000 from TV producer Johnathan Walton, 45, over two years by pretending to be an Irish royal and heir to a fortune.

After realizing she'd scammed him, Johnathan spent years investigating Smyth's background and her dozens of other cons.

He found she had once posed as Friends star Aniston, and also went by multiple names and regularly changed her appearance.

Johnathan worked with authorities until she was eventually jailed for five years on grand larceny charges.

Now Smyth, who is due to be released in February, faces extradition to stand trial in Northern Ireland, according to documents seen by The Sun.

It is claimed she scammed more than two dozen victims out of around £380,000 when she lived there before moving to LA.

In an exclusive interview, Johnathan said: "After I realised I was conned, I went to police who kind of laughed at me at first and turned me away and said, 'This is not a crime'.

"So I started my own investigation and I hired private detectives all over the country.

"I did background checks and found out she had frauds and felonies in various states and I started a blog.

"And as soon as I started my website, using every version of her name I had heard of, victims started contacting from all over the country from Florida, Tennessee, New York,Michigan, California, different places in Los Angeles.

"Eventually police started investigating her and she was jailed in 2019.

"And then one day I got a call from a police detective in Northern Ireland, in Belfast, who told me he'd been looking for Maryanne Smyth for almost ten years.

"They told me they believed she had been running these scams on 26 people to the tune of $500,000."

Johnathan, who features in new ABC documentary The Con narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, discovered Smyth was born in Bangor, Maine, but had a fixation with being Irish.

She moved to Northern Ireland after starting an online relationship with a man there, and stayed from 2000 to 2009.

The American Ninja Warrior producer did not meet Smyth until 2013 after she had moved to Los Angeles and he hosted a meeting for residents of his apartment building.

"She entered my life like most con artists enter people's lives – she offered to help. That's a big foothold. That's a big way in for a lot of cons," he said.

"They want to help you make money or they want to help you find love.

"In this case, we had lost the swimming pool in our building in downtown Los Angeles because of a legal fight with another building that we shared it with.

"We were up in arms so I had a meeting in my apartment and 40 residents attended and Marianne Smyth was one of them and she quickly took control of the meeting.

"She had a strange accent that I couldn't place so when she said she was from Ireland, it made sense.

"She said her boyfriend is this LA politician – who I would go on to double date with twice – and that he would help us get the pool back.

"So we all loved her. She started wining and dining my husband and I. I loved her as much as any gay man can love a woman.

"She would take us to expensive restaurants and the bill would come to $600.But then she would say 'I want to pay, let me pay. I'm rich. You guys are amazing.'

"So we thought she was rich from the get go and she was so funny, friendly and lovable and then she started unpacking her story about how she was descended from Irish royalty but her family were trying to disinherit her.

"At the time, obviously, I didn't know it was a story. I thought this was her life."

Over the next few years, Smyth would show Johnathan cruel emails and texts from fictitious family members back in Ireland to make him believe they were trying to have her falsely accused of crimes.

When she was arrested and accused of stealing $200,000 from her employer, Johnathan bailed her out and she paid him straight back.

"One day I come over to her place and she's sobbing and I hold her while she cries and her tears wet my shirt. I'm crying too," he said.

"She tells me her family paid off the district attorney prosecuting her case to freeze her bank accounts.

"So I start loaning her money. I had no qualms. I loaned her close to $20,000 cash to pay her rent. I thought she would pay me back like the last time she paid me back.

"I know she was going to get this big inheritance and thought she was going to be very wealthy soon.

"This is almost three years into our friendship. She says, 'Listen, I'm close to getting the inheritance. The case can go away.

"They just need $50,000 in court expenses… if I can give them $50,000, the case gets dismissed. I can get my inheritance. The money gets released to my accounts that they froze. Everything will be good.'

"I didn't have $50,000 cash at that point laying around but I let her charge my credit cards."

Shortly afterwards Smyth was jailed – and told Johnathan she had to spend 30 days inside as part of a minor money laundering charge related to the money he had loaned her.

Anxious to see his friend, Johnathan applied to the jail to get a visiting pass and was shocked to find she was actually in for a felony.

Johnathan began researching and found that everything she had told him about the case was a lie – and she had actually pleaded guilty to stealing $200,000 from her employers and the $50,000 she had conned off him was to pay for a guilty plea agreement. There were no frozen bank accounts.

Devastated and betrayed, Johnathan went to cops but faced an uphill struggle for them to finally start investigating.

He then set up a blog about his experiences and was stunned when dozens of other victims started to get in touch.

Johnathan discovered Smyth had 23 different aliases and would use a variety of different scams – even sometimes pretending to be Jennifer Aniston and other celebrities to try and scam production companies to send her money.

Other scams Smyth has been accused of include pretending she or her daughter – who has disowned her mother – had cancer to raise money – and other alleged property and mortgage scams.

Every time Johnathan found a new victim he would report it to police and eventually Smyth was arrested and a jury in LA found her guilty of grant theft by inducement in January 2019.

Johnathan, two of her victims and Smyth's own daughter testified against her in court.

Smyth did not testify and refused to comment when approached by reporters outside the courthouse.

She was sentenced to five years but her sentence has been reduced due to overcrowding – and she is due to be released in February.

Johnathan is now on a mission to help victims of other con-artists

"When this just happened to me, I felt so forsaken by God. .. I was mad at God because I've been a good person. I've helped people my entire life. And here I am helping this woman. How can you let this happen to me?

"And then months later when the other victims started coming forward and I started building a case, it dawned on me, it was meant to happen to me. No one had stopped her. I was meant to stop her. I felt like God chose me to stop.

"And now I want to help other victims – who knows how many Marianne Smyths are out there – and this can happen to anyone."

A spokesperson for the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) said: "Police are revisiting reports of alleged fraud that occurred in 2009.

"As this is an ongoing investigation it would be inappropriate to comment any further."

The Sun reached out to Smyth's attorney, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office and the UK Home Office for comment.

The Con airs on ABC at 10pm October 21 at 10pm.

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