The daughter of a serial con artist opened up about how her mother, who posed as a bogus Irish heiress and allegedly scammed more than 20 people in Northern Ireland, used her to help carry out a £ 500,000 mortgage scam .
n Queen of the Con, Chelsea Welch explains that Marianne Smyth would ask her to forge signatures on financial documents of the company she worked for.
The documentary is directed by award-winning producer Johnathan Walton, who Smyth also scammed over £ 90,000 when he got to know her in the US after fleeing Northern Ireland. He’s investigated her dozens of other downsides, including posing as Friends star Jennifer Aniston.
Smyth was born in the United States and arrived here with her then teenage daughter Chelsea in early 2002 and eventually got a job as a mortgage broker at a company outside Belfast.
“She befriended a lot of her clients… I babysat for them and she hung out with them,” Chelsea recalls.
“She used me for all kinds of things, I used to forge signatures on papers … I can pretty much look at someone’s handwriting and copy it.”
Chelsea explained that she already had a knack for imitating people’s handwriting and was once criticized for forging a note from her mother when she was in school.
Smyth told his young daughter it was always urgent and if the documents weren’t signed people wouldn’t get their money.
“Sometimes I was like ‘this is weird’ and ‘what if I got in trouble and got arrested? »But when she asked me to do something, it was never a request,
was not an option, ”she said.
“At least once a week, I signed several papers. It was always a weekend on a Sunday night and it was always an emergency scenario.
“She would just put the weight of the world on my shoulders to do something. It wasn’t that I thought we were ripping people off, I believed her.
“I knew signature forgery was illegal and got to a point where I had done it a lot … I just thought my mom was a total idiot.”
But far from stupid, Smyth was using the fraudulently signed documents to defraud hundreds of thousands of pounds from more than 20 clients.
“I didn’t feel like she was ripping people off, but I knew something was up,” Chelsea said.
“There were times my mom rolled in the money. I would get a wad of cash and go to town and spend the money.
In 2009, Smyth fled Northern Ireland after learning police were investigating the missing money and the case had been reopened by detectives.
But before she did, she made her partner slaughter more than a dozen greyhounds they kept in their house.
“I’ll never forget her. Those dogs were her life,” Chelsea said.
After returning to the United States, she eventually settled in Los Angeles, where she met Mr. Walton and tricked him into believing she was an Irish heiress due to a multi-million inheritance. of dollars.
Just over a year after meeting him, Smyth was arrested and charged with defrauding a travel agency she worked for over $ 200,000, but told Mr Walton it was ‘a setup.
He agreed to give her a $ 4,200 bond, which she paid back, but soon started asking for more money, claiming her bank accounts had been frozen.
“With every scam, they let you get your beak wet first. They allow you to get some of your money back so that you feel confident to continue, ”Mr. Walton said.
“I have helped women all my life. I’m gay, but a damsel in distress, here I am.
Mr. Walton loaned her a total of $ 92,000, which she then used as compensation to get a reduced jail sentence for defrauding the travel agency.
He confronted Smyth when she was released after finding out she had lied to him and also surrendered to the police after being left on the verge of bankruptcy.
After urging them to investigate, Smyth was jailed in 2018 for five years for incitement theft.
Mr Walton also wrote a blog about his experience which saw Smyth’s victims and the PSNI contact him for information about his crimes in the United States.
Queen of the Con to be released on iHeart radio on September 30