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Scammer who claimed to be an Irish heiress should be extradited to UK, judge rules

Scammer who claimed to be an Irish heiress should be extradited to UK, judge rules

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — 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 Smyth’s extradition to the U.K. to face charges. Nivison wrote that Smyth will be in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending a decision on extradition by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

In a selfie taken in July 2014, Johnathan Walton poses with Marianne Smyth during a vacation to Palm Springs, California.

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

Smyth faces four counts of fraud by abuse of position under the U.K. Fraud Act of 2006, and four counts of theft in violation of Northern Ireland’s Theft Act of 1969, Nivison wrote. Authorities overseas have said 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,” Nivison wrote.

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. Smyth’s victims included Johnathan Walton, a podcaster who warned others of Smyth’s grifts. Smyth was found guilty of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from Walton and spent about two years in jail.

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

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

By PATRICK WHITTLE/Associated Press

Whittle is an Associated Press reporter based in Portland, Maine. He focuses on the environment and oceans.

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