How do you spot a scam? The unlisted phone numbers that contact you about your extended auto warranty. An email from an unknown source informing you of the large sum of money you’re due. Text messages with links from someone you don’t know, urging you to view the site they sent…These kinds of online scams are getting easier to spot. The tactics aren’t working on us like they used to. We ignore, delete, block them as they roll in and move on.

But would you know how to spot a scam in your real life before it was too late?

For years, Johnathan Walton didn’t know that the woman he called his best friend was actually a career con-artist, suspected of numerous scams and fraudulent activity across the country and internationally. Once he uncovered the truth, though, Johnathan made it his mission to stop her.

If you haven’t heard Part 1 of his story on Dark Downeast yet, go back one episode and start with The Con.

This is Part 2: The Convict.

The Story So Far

Johnathan Walton met the woman he knew as Mair Smith in 2013 at a wine and cheese night he hosted at his apartment. They were as close as brother and sister, best friends, and their relationship deepened over dinners at high end restaurants where she footed the bill and the kinds of conversations that come from tall pours of wine and the space to be vulnerable among people you know and trust.

Mair claimed she was an Irish heiress due for a multi-million dollar inheritance, but she was estranged from her family and they would apparently stop at nothing to keep Mair from the money… Including setting her up for what she said was a bogus accusation of stealing from her employer. Jonathan lent Mair money to make bail. And then again to pay legal fees. Next thing he knew, he was in the hole for close to $100,000. Mair was good for it though. Johnathan had faith – she had that inheritance coming, afterall. 

But Mair’s story, and Johnathan’s hopes of getting his money back, completely unraveled when he dug up court records that listed the actual charges against his best friend – felony grand theft. The accusations weren’t bogus. She actually did steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from her employer and she was going to jail for it. Not as long as she would’ve though… Johnathan learned his money went towards paying part of the restitution, knocking her sentence down to 30 days.

Johnathan knew he’d been scammed and he took it to police, but they weren’t interested. He wasn’t standing there bloodied and bruised. With persistence though, Johnathan did get his case moved to an investigator, but it stalled out in 2017, so Johnathan launched his own investigation. The closer he looked at Mair and her stories, the more time he spent digging up her past, the more he realized that Mair wasn’t anything she claimed to be. And he made it his mission to expose her. It started with a blog.

The blog Johnathan created detailed his experience with Mair Smyth and what he’d learned about her since uncovering her felony grand theft charges. He outlined the scam she trapped him with, the Irish heiress story, and her real name: Marianne Andle. He hoped that if people searched for this woman his blog would pop up, and he’d have a chance at disrupting whatever new scheme she was trying to pull, and could inform those she’d conned in the past that they were not alone. 

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