He’s an online predator who sweet talks his way into the hearts of his victims. He targets women who are looking for love, winning their trust and love before conning them out of their money.
For two decades, law enforcement has failed to catch Richard Scott Smith. But his victims have banded together to hire a bounty hunter, and their quest for justice is chronicled in Showtime’s Love Fraud, a four-part docuseries premiering Sunday, Aug. 30 at 9 p.m. EST.
Directed by Oscar-nominated filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, the series takes viewers inside the twisted mind of a criminal. In an interview with PEOPLE Senior Editor Alicia Dennis, Grady says the project’s origin was the dark fascination she and Ewing shared about men who lead double lives.
“That is an incredibly strange thing to do,” she says. “And incredibly cruel.” (The exclusive interview is shown above.)
Their research into this topic led them to a blog run by women who’d been duped by Smith. The victims’ stories of betrayal were powerful — and so was their determination to stop Smith from victimizing any more women.
“They were hoping and praying that women who were currently being scammed by them could somehow find him, and they’d be able to warn them,” says Grady.
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The story, which unravels in real time, celebrates the teamwork of the women and the empowerment they find. They have very little in common in terms of background. But their encounters with Smith, and their desire for justice, enabled them to find common cause.
The series also sheds light on contemporary dating, with all of its ambiguities and pitfalls. Says Ewing, “We do live in a time where chivalry is hard to come by. Words of affection, and simple acts of affection, go a long way — maybe longer than they should.”
Love Fraud premieres Sunday, Aug. 30 at 9 p.m. EST on Showtime.
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