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He Believed Her Story About the Rich Relative—for 4 Years

Mair Smyth's con was a long one
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2020 10:55 AM CST
Updated Feb 23, 2020 1:00 PM CST

(Newser) – To American Ninja Warrior producer Johnathan Walton, Mair Smyth seemed to be what she said she was. She would show him texts sent by friends Ashley Judd and Jennifer Aniston. She opened up about her Irish family, and the great-uncle whose recent death meant she'd be getting a slice of his $27.5 million estate. She paid for dinners out at posh LA spots. Walton and Smyth had met in 2013 while living at the same LA apartment complex and eventually became best friends, with Walton attracted by Smyth's "candor" and comfortable talking to her about how his relationship had deteriorated with some of his relatives after they learned he was gay. She understood—the cousins who also stood to benefit from her great-uncle's estate wanted her disinherited and would send her angry texts, sometimes in Gaelic, that she'd show him. Thing was, it was a con.

Writing for the Hollywood Reporter, Katie Kilkenny explains that the friends frequently spoke about a clause in Smyth's great-uncle's will that would cut out any relative convicted of a felony. The two discussed the likelihood that her cousins could try to frame her for a crime—and then that seemed to happen. In July 2014 Smyth called him collect from the Century Regional Detention Facility: She said she'd been framed for stealing $200,000 from PacificIslands.com, a high-end tour operator she worked for. She needed $4,200 for bail. He paid it and was paid back the next day. And she didn't ask for another loan until April 2015. But then she asked for another and another, ones she couldn't pay back, she said, until her case was resolved and her bank accounts were unfrozen. By February 2017 he had loaned her almost $70,000—then he logged on the jail's website and saw something unexpected. (Read the story in full to learn what happens to Walton and Smyth.)

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