A former Maryville resident who swindled a Los Angeles producer out of tens of thousands of dollars will star as the real-life villain in Episode 2 of ABC’s new “The Con” series, airing at 10 p.m. Wednesday.
Narrated by award-winning actor and talk show host Whoopi Goldberg, the show premiered Oct. 14 and “explores the troubling tales of people taken in by claims and promises that proved too good to be true,” an ABC press release states.
Wednesday’s episode is titled “The Heiress Con” and will recount the story of former Maryvillian Marianne Smyth, a woman found guilty of fraudulently stealing at least $75,000 from a reality TV producer.
The Daily Times reported on her case June 2018 and January 2019, chronicling accusations she lied to the L.A.-based producer, telling him she was Irish royalty and that her family was trying to cheat her out of a $25 million inheritance.
Producer Johnathan Walton — who worked on such shows “Shark Tank” and “American Ninja Warrior” — told The Daily Times he met Smyth in 2013 but began to suspect something was wrong in 2017 when she was convicted for embezzling about $200,000 from former employers.
Walton said during that time, Smyth bought him, his husband and others lavish dinners and gifts, claiming she worked for a luxury travel agency.
Journalists found that Smyth ran multiple East Tennessee businesses, was involved in several frauds and used numerous false identities to perpetuate her scams.
Though she was born in Maine, Smyth was raised in Maryville and lived in the area from 1993-2000, The Daily Times reported.
Wednesday’s episode will track not only Smyth’s life of crime but Walton’s journey to discover other victims. Notes on the episode state he loaned Smyth tens of thousands of dollars to help with legal expenses.
Ultimately, Walton testified against her in a 2019 grand theft trial where a jury found her guilty of fraud and sentenced her to five years in prison.
“I’m forever changed by my experience of getting conned by Marianne Smyth,” Walton writes on his website johnathanwalton.com, detailing his fraught history with Smyth, who often called herself Walton’s best friend. “I’m now suspicious of everyone and everything. I subscribe to multiple criminal databases and I background check everyone.”
After years of investigation, Walton is also writing a book about his experience, which he said cost him $91,784.
He said he also believes there are at least 45 other victims associated with Smyth.
The Daily Times found Smyth was jailed by Blount County Sheriff’s deputies at least twice.
The reporter also found Smyth’s daughter filed a complaint with Alcoa Police, claiming her mother had used her identity to get an apartment lease in California.
Wednesday’s episode will be nearly an hour long and followed in coming weeks by stories of similar U.S. cons.