Showtime just released Love Fraud, a scintillating new documentary series about a group of women who realize they have all been financially scammed by the same man posing as each of their romantic interests over the years. When they’ve individually gone to the police, they felt as though they were met with apathy or even blame for getting swindled. Cue an Avengers-like crew assembly, because these women join forces with a bounty hunter named Carla to track down the man known as Richard Scott Smith as the co-directors of this documentary, Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, take us along for the ride. If you are looking for a docu-series that will make you go No! Wait...what?! Then you have come to the right place.
The suspect in the four-part docuseries targeted women in the midwest looking for love for the past 20 years. In the process, he betrayed their trust and conned them out of money. “He usually marries them, robs them, and humiliates them,” Grady tells Refinery29 over the phone. While a couple of them had gotten close to bringing him to justice — at least for some of his crimes — he always managed to escape the consequences of his actions.
Smith, who regularly goes by “Rick,” “Scott,” or “Mickey” depending on who he is scamming, sweeps women off their feet promising a great love. And when it comes to Smith, with big love comes big purchases, draining joint checking accounts, and identity theft. Some spent tens of thousands while one woman claimed she went $700,000 into debt for Smith. Whenever a “romance” fell apart, or he had gotten everything he could out of a union, Smith would disappear, taking as much money as he could in the process. Women who went to law enforcement with accusations were met with apathy and often the blame was placed on them for trusting Smith. Grady and Ewing followed Smith for a year speaking with about 30 different women in total who had been scammed by Smith.
Another shocking discovery they made was that Smith would often borrow details of the lives of other women he was seeing when he was targeting a new woman. For example, he told one woman he had a kid sister named Nicole. He would offer all these details about her when in reality, he was describing the kid of another woman he was seeing.
“Every word out of his mouth is a lie,” Jean Hansen, one of Smith’s former wives told the Kansas City Star in 2017 when she accused Smith of forgery and identity theft. Hansen was able to get the marriage annulled after she discovered that not only was Smith already married but that he was also seeing another woman who he’d met in June 2015 about a month before they got married. After things ended, she filed a criminal case against him in the Johnson County District Court. In the process, Hansen was forced to file for bankruptcy because of all the debt Smith accrued in her name.
When Smith was arrested and questioned, even he couldn’t tell police how many times he’d been married. According to an affidavit filed in Johnson County District Court, when asked how many times he’d been married, Smith replied, “Probably five times.” Though the felony charges were filed, Smith was released after posting a $10,000 bond. At his request, Smith was granted more time to obtain an attorney. Grady claims they found 11 marriage certificates while looking into Smith’s background. “I don’t know how one person can juggle so much,” she said, adding that a number of these marriages overlapped and he was even dating people on the side at the same time.
The woman he was seeing in the month before he and Hansen got married spoke with the Kansas City Star but asked that her name not be revealed. She claims that in September 2015, Smith assaulted her and was arrested for domestic abuse. At the time, she and Smith were engaged. In a Des Moines police report, the woman said Smith threw her to the ground, kicked her, and struck her in the head with an electronic device. Smith was arrested and put on probation, according to court records in Polk County, Iowa.
“He got away from us for months,” Ewing explained. “We got close a few times and lost him...He’s a pretty good escape artist. He’s gotten out of some legal binds by lying, feigning health problems, crying...he got out of our clutches several times.” Ewing recounted a close call when Smith faked a heart attack in order to evade justice. The judge responded by letting Smith go. That’s when the Love Fraud team decided to step up their game and employ multiple private investigators in different cities to make it harder for Smith to get away.
Eventually, Smith was arrested again, this time for violating his probation. As each woman made statements detailing the ways Smith lied and took advantage of them, Smith still only received a 180-day sentence for violating his probation. According to Grady and Ewing, he’s already out and back to scamming women. “We know he’s in Johnson County, Kansas because someone saw the trailer and said her sister was living with him,” said Ewing. “She shared the trailer with her and last week her sister dumped him...he could be anywhere now.”
However, they hope that with the release of Love Fraud, Smith’s conning days are numbered. “I think it’s going to potentially ruin his dating life,” Grady said, speculating about the consequences of docuseries’ release. “Since the trailer came out, other women have come forward,” Ewing added. “There’s a lot of people we don’t know about and time gaps where we don’t know what he was doing. But I think we’re about to find out.”