Wronged Wives and a Bounty Hunter: Operation Find Richard

His name is Richard Scott Smith (take note, ladies), and he’s the epitome of the wrong man to get involved with. Richard doesn’t usually go by his real name; he’s used the names Mick, Rick, and Scott when introducing himself to women.

Richard Scott Smith / Ellen / Love Fraud / Richard Scott Smith, Jean Hansen.
Source: Showtime

Richard has endured a career of conning women; some he dated and others he married (sometimes at the same time). His go-to spots were the karaoke bar and online dating websites. His M.O.? Draining women’s bank accounts to buy cars and other expensive toys. And then − poof – he would disappear.

But the women he conned decided to join forces, hire a bounty hunter, and conduct a modern-day witch hunt for the man who wronged them.

When Tracy Met Mickey

Tracy, a single mom in Kansas City, Missouri, thought she might just have lucked out when she swiped right on a photo of a guy named Mickey in 2016. “Dating in your 40s sucks,” she says in the docuseries Love Fraud, a four-part series based on Richard and his wronged wives. Feeling as though online dating was her only shot, she stumbled upon “Mickey.”

A portrait of Tracy with her dog.
Tracy. Source: Showtime

His online profile said he was religious, the owner of a real estate company, and – what the ladies love (I guess?) – he was also a pilot (ooooooh). His photo, however, was pretty ordinary – a middle-aged white guy – nothing special. But the pilot thing…

Mickey Was Quick as a Whip

Things happened fast. Super fast. Within weeks, Mickey had proposed to her. The ring he put on her finger was one he said he paid for with the cash he got from a medical malpractice suit. He also bought a fancy sports car, “for us” he told her. But the wedding, he said, had to happen as soon as possible. Mickey was quick; he wasted no time.

A picture of Richard Scott Smith.
Richard Scott Smith. Source: Showtime

Then, Mickey disappeared. With the help of her daughter, Tracy tried to piece things back together. Baffled by what just happened to her, she spun together a harsh, humorous, and honest blog dedicated to the man who wined and dined her.

A Laundry List of Lonely Ladies

Of course, Mickey is not his real name. It was just one of the many aliases Richard Scott Smith used when he was hunting down his lonely and looking-for-love victims. Conning women was his profession, and taking women’s modest life savings, credit cards, and hopes of finding the man of their dreams was his specialty.

A picture of Richard Scott Smith talking on the phone.
Richard Scott Smith. Source: Showtime

According to Richard’s own sister, he might have had up to nine wives, despite him only admitting to five. Tracy was added to the catalog of women on Richard’s hit list. The other names (and we’ll get to their stories, too) included Sabrina, Karla, Ellen, Rachel, Jean, and more than one Heather.

Scott (the Crook) Smith

There were certainly more women; they just chose to remain nameless. The braver ones were featured in the Love Fraud docuseries. Tracy may have started her own blog about Mickey, but it was another blog that got the ball rolling.

The deceived women pose in a promotional shot of the docuseries.
Source: Showtime

The blog, aptly titled “Scott the Crook Smith,” was created by a woman named Lisa Lenton and it was the reason the series even got made in the first place. The filmmakers of Love Fraud found Lisa’s blog about the man she married about a decade ago. The blog’s sole goal was to warn women about Richard’s love frauds and criminal cons.

Lisa Leads the Pack

Lisa and Richard married in Georgia in 2012 (four years before Tracy even met him), but it only lasted a few months. It was she who left him after becoming increasingly suspicious about his manipulative nature.

A picture of Lisa and Richard at home.
Richard Scott Smith, Lisa. Source: Facebook

She couldn’t get the marriage annulled, but what she successfully managed to do in time was block him from accessing her money. As soon as she left him, she had the foresight to freeze her accounts. Eventually, she started the blog, unaware of the path it would lead her, and other women, down.

Jean Wasn’t So Lucky

Only after Jean Hansen left Richard did she stumble upon Lisa’s blog. Jean was another one of his wives; however, she wasn’t as “lucky” as Lisa was. After meeting Richard at a singles group and hitting it off, the pair flew to Las Vegas in August 2015 to get hitched (in between his relationships with Lisa and Tracy).

A picture of Richard and Jean on a night out.
Richard Scott Smith, Jean. Source: Facebook

It was his charm and chivalry that made her fall for him, she explained. She also agreed to join his “business,” Prestige Corporate Living, only to be left high and dry. Totally broke, Jean had to borrow money from others just so she could file for bankruptcy.

She Lost Everything

Jean lost everything – her house, her cars – to Richard, whose debt accumulated in Jean’s name. Richard promised her that she would get all the money back one day. He told her that she would get the $1.2 million from the sale of his other business. Obviously, it was a big, fat lie.

Jean shows a picture of her wedding day during an interview.
Jean. Source: Showtime

Jean started noticing his manipulative behavior in early 2016, going so far as to call it abuse. Then, once she found Lisa’s blog, she learned that he was already married. That’s when she got an annulment.

The Unnamed Wife From Iowa

Through Lisa’s blog, Jean discovered that Richard had been engaged to another woman, in Iowa, merely a month before she married him. She also discovered that Richard had been abusive to other women as well. This woman kept her name anonymous, but she did accuse Richard of assault.

A picture of Richard with another woman.
Richard Scott Smith. Source: Showtime

She reported him to the police, citing the time he threw her to the ground, kicked her, and hit her head with an electronic device. She feared that he might kill her next time, so the police put Richard under probation.

Holly Sued Him, But…

Holly Koch became another one of Richard’s victims in 2014, after meeting him on a dating site. After two months of chatting online, they became so serious that she, like Jean, agreed to join his business. Afterward, they moved in together and made plans to get married. You know, the usual…

A photo of Richard is displayed on a phone’s screen.
Source: Showtime

Speaking of patterns, Holly’s family grew suspicious of Richard, as did she. She decided to end the relationship in May 2015, which was shortly before the unnamed wife from Iowa came into the picture. Luckily for Holly, she successfully sued Richard for $90,000. The bad news: she still hasn’t gotten one payment from him.

Meet Carla, the Bounty Hunter

As time passed and more women fell prey to Richard’s cons, the blog grew more popular. So much so that it caught the eye of the Love Fraud producers. They noticed a revenge plot start to unfold, and sooner than later, a woman named Carla Campbell entered the picture.

A portrait of Carla Campbell.
Carla Campbell. Source: Showtime

The Kansas-based bounty hunter is a true character. She’s a no-nonsense woman who takes a drag of her cigarette as she says things like, “I will kill any man who touches me again.” It’s no surprise that she took on the hunt-Richard-down mission pro bono.

Operation Find Richard

“I’ve been through an abusive relationship,” Carla shared. “I’ve lost money. I’ve already been there and did all of that stuff. It was just like, they need my help because they’ve got nobody else.”

A surveillance tape of Richard walking the street.
Richard Scott Smith. Source: Showtime

The odd (yet unsurprising) thing was that by 2017, the local justice systems had already put out warrants for Richard’s arrest, and yet no efforts were being made to catch him. Wait around for the donut-eating detectives to move? No way. These women were ready to begin their hunt.

A Boring, Petty Conman

The wronged women and the filmmakers joined forces and took on the job of pseudo detectives – all with one mission: find Richard. They started by looking for Richard’s next victim by staking out a strange spot in Wichita called Krab Kingz, a restaurant he’d opened with a new girlfriend.

A portrait of Richard Scott Smith.
Richard Scott Smith. Source: Showtime

Richard is a “nickel and dime con man,” according to bounty hunter Carla. In other words, he gains little in financial terms for the amount of emotional harm he produces. Part of the mystery surrounding Richard is just how boring and unremarkable his personality is.

Far From Irresistible

Typically, conmen have a way about them – a certain “je ne sais quoi” that makes them irresistible. Hence all the women… But in all the photos, videos, voicemail messages and stories, Richard comes off as an uninteresting, emotionless man who gets off on cars and a few thousand dollars.

An image of Richard Scott Smith.
Source: Showtime

“It takes a very twisted individual to seek that payment,” said Heidi Ewing, one of the show’s producers. He’s “a true predator”, added Rachel Grady, another producer. “Part of it is just the hunt.”

A Dark, Murky Past

Not much is known about Richard’s family history or his childhood considering much of what he says are lies. But we do have some information on the now 50-year-old’s murky past, thanks to his aunt, Katie. Katie came forward to discuss her nephew on the docuseries.

Carla speaks during an interview.
Carla Campbell. Source: Showtime

She knows him as Scott, though, his middle name as a child. Katie said that he lived with his grandparents until he was nine, due to the “abuse going on with his mother.”

Off the Face of the Earth

According to Katie, Richard’s mother had her own demons growing up. Both her mother and grandmother committed suicide together, by setting their house on fire. “That could have done a lot of things to her because she was just not sound,” Katie asserted.

A still of Katie speaking during an interview.
Katie, Richard’s aunt. Source: Showtime

When Richard turned nine, his mother took off with him, leaving no clues behind for the family to be able to find them – no telephone numbers, no forwarding addresses. “It was like he dropped off of the face of the earth and who knows what she could have done to him.”

A High School Drop Out

Richard’s best friend from high school, Gary, also appears in Love Fraud. Gary said that Richard, whom he also knew as Scott, dropped out of high school in his junior year and by then he had already developed a knack for manipulating women.

A portrait of Richard standing next to his car.
Richard Scott Smith. Source: Showtime

“That’s when everything changed with him,” Gary stated. “I mean it was like Scott became the type of person who can’t go without a girlfriend for very long.” There were times when he and Gary would date two or three girls at the same time.

Richard’s Game

It became a game early on. Gary said that Richard “thought it would be cool” to see just how many girls he could get at the same time “and not get caught.” He was, according to Gary, someone who “would always tell lies” to the girls he was dating.

A portrait of Richard and the words Love Fraud.
Source: Showtime

“I don’t think he knows the difference between right or wrong no more and it’s either going to end one of two ways: in a jail cell or in a coffin, ‘cause he’s going to mess with the wrong woman one day.”

Why? For What?

Boy, did Gary know what was coming for his old friend! Obviously, this was a long-time pattern. But what was his end game? Leaving women in ruins for a modest pay out of a sports car or a few thousand bucks? Why?

Carla Campbell speaks to one of the deceived women.
Source: Showtime

These women needed answers. This group of scorned ex-wives were all lower-to-middle class, suburban, middle-aged, and mostly white. Adding to their desire for revenge was the fact that they were either ignored or dismissed by the justice system.

Time to Take Justice into Their Own Hands

In fact, the local sheriff told Tracy that he wouldn’t waste his time on her case after he learned that Richard skipped out of his jurisdiction. “Nobody is gonna be active on the streets looking for him, except us,” Carla told some of the women in a meeting in Kansas City.

A picture of Carla during the investigation.
Carla Campbell. Source: Showtime

“It’s not like I said: ‘here’s my checkbook, here’s my identity, have fun.’ This is a whole game; he’s been doing this for years.” That’s what Sabrina Dunlap shared of her own experiences with Richard.

Sabrina’s Anger

Sabrina, a hairstylist, met Richard while cutting his hair. It was on his fourth visit to her that they started talking and exchanged numbers. His first call to her was only five minutes after he left the salon. Soon enough, they were an item and within months, they were planning their wedding.

Sabrina tells her story during an interview.
Sabrina. Source: Showtime

Then, Sabrina learned that he was still married to another woman: Jean. Sabrina dumped him, but then she found out that he already bought two cars in her name. And that’s not all…

“The Law Don’t Care”

He also got credit cards in her name, started a cable service in four Kansas City area apartments in her name, and emptied their joint bank account. Furious, she went to the police with the information. Nothing came of it.

An image of Richard Scott Smith in court.
Richard Scott Smith. Source: Showtime

In the end, her relationship with Richard cost her around $100,000. Time after time, he would get off with mere probation. This time, he got probation for the identity theft. “No, the law don’t care,” Carla stated. It became increasingly clear where the justice system stood…

Powerful Things Happen

The justice system’s message to these women was, “you are responsible for your own emotional manipulation.” Ewing said, “If you date the guy that conned you, you’re screwed in the justice system.” To call it unfair would be the understatement of the year.

A surveillance footage taken from a parking lot spots Richard Smith entering a hotel room with a new woman.
Source: Showtime

“They blame the women – they blame you for being silly and stupid and naive.” Ironically, Richard gave these women a reason to unite. “There’s something about uniting in revenge: when wronged people get together, powerful things happen,” declared Ewing. And what’s more powerful than revenge?

Finally, an Arrest

“The best way to get over a guy is revenge,” Sabrina said. “I’m sorry, it is,” she added. Tired of all the bulls***, she said, “Rick, you lying sack of sh*t, you f***ed me, I am f***ed, Rick. Buddy, I’m coming after you.” This was “next-level revenge,” as Grady put it.

A mugshot of Richard Scott Smith.
Source: Showtime

Richard left a trail of wronged women around the country, but his main hub was the Kansas City region. Thanks to the Love Fraud team, Richard was arrested in 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee. But don’t get too excited…

He’s Still Out There

He was sentenced to prison, only to be released in April of the following year. According to the filmmakers, Richard was last spotted in Johnson County in Kansas in August 2020. The sad truth is that Richard is still out there, continuing his schemes.

Carla speaks during an interview.
Source: Showtime

“He’s not done. He’s still out there,” Carla stated. The women haven’t given up, though. They track him. According to the “Scott the Crook Smith” site, Richard was sighted at RV dealerships in the Kansas area and was laid off during the pandemic.

He Thought He Was on to Them

In the final scene of Love Fraud, Richard is seen in a pool with a new woman. He had just gotten out of jail time in Iowa. He then spent some time in a halfway house in Kansas. Grady knows this because he actually called her when he got out.

A photo of Jean and Richard.
Jean Hansen, Richard Scott Smith. Source: Showtime

He thought he was onto them. “He really thought that he had me in the palm of his hand,” the filmmaker said. But they had hired another private investigator to follow him. Grady said that Richard called her a few more times after he got out of jail, before disappearing again.

The End Goal

For the women who took part in the docuseries, their goal above all else was retribution and saving others. “I wanted to save anybody else from ever having to experience what me and the other women had already experienced,” Tracy asserted.

A picture of Carla practicing at a shooting range.
Carla Campbell. Source: Showtime

“We have a crusade,” Sandi, another victim, added. “We’re not going to stop until we see him behind bars again — that is our end goal.” If the police aren’t doing anything about it, the documentary and the blog will have to make do. And it’s actually working…

It’s Working

After the Love Fraud trailer came out, one woman couldn’t help but stand up from her seat. The woman’s sister was living with Richard and immediately reached out to the filmmakers. It was in July 2020 that Grady got a DM on Twitter from a stranger.

A photo of Carla Campbell / A picture of Richard Scott Smith.
Carla Campbell, Richard Scott Smith. Source: YouTube

The message read: “I just saw the trailer for Love Fraud, and my sister’s living with this man and I’m really concerned, and I didn’t trust him.” She told the filmmaker that she thought the guy was “weird.”

Yes, He’s Dangerous

She told Ewing that he was trying to keep her sister away from her family and that he always wanted to know whom she’s calling on the phone. He wouldn’t let her watch TV, only old movies. “We knew something was weird. Is he dangerous?”

An image of a woman holding a phone in her hands.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

Ewing responded with “Yes, I think he’s dangerous. He is dangerous.” They needed to get this new girlfriend away from Richard as soon as possible. The woman spoke with her sister, told her to watch the trailer, and she then confronted him.

One Woman Saved

Apparently, he had also seen the trailer and knew it was coming. He wasn’t surprised. The relationship ended before any damage could be done. When his girlfriend confronted him, he told her it was a witch hunt “and all that sort of thing.”

A picture of Carla Campbell looking straight at the camera.
Source: Showtime

There was another woman who reached out to the producers. She saw the first episode while she was in a relationship with him. She and him were in a hotel room that morning and she decided to reach out to Carla. As for Carla, the bounty hunter, she plans to meet him again… one day.

Carla, the Web Sleuth

Once they met Carla, the producers knew that she would be the star of the show. Unfortunately, after filming wrapped, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. As a result, she had to put down her bounty hunter badge, so to speak.

A picture of Clara sitting behind her desk.
Source: YouTube

She’s turned to web sleuthing instead and is intent on tracking down Richard and bringing new charges against him. Speaking of the web, Love Fraud is like an extension of the blog, and it is absolutely something that is going to impede Richard’s future schemes.

Don’t Google Me!

Sandi recalled that Richard told her not to Google him. This was after the blog came out on the web. At the time, she didn’t understand why he was so adamant about it. Looking back now, it was clear to Sandi that he didn’t want her to find the website and discover his ugly truth. It all just means that the plan is working.

A screengrab of Richard’s photo on a computer screen.
Source: Showtime

“I definitely think dating might get harder,” Ewing remarked. It’s impossible to ignore the billboards of Richard’s face plastered on buildings in New York, LA, and the conman’s favorite romping ground, Kansas City.

Remember That Face

Richard is going to have to look for women who don’t use the internet if he wants to keep up his charade. The more people watch the show and read and share the blog, Richard will have an increasingly difficult time continuing in his ways.

Richard’s picture is featured in a promotional shot of the docuseries.
Source: Showtime

The filmmakers managed to secure an interview with Richard while he was serving his brief sentence in jail. They wrote him a letter, and he called them up on the day he received it. He was ready to give his version of the events.

A Chat with Richard… in Jail

To Ewing, it wasn’t shocking that he wanted to talk. The man was a narcissist, after all. “To pass up an opportunity to persuade us maybe, or defend his record, or complain or bitch or cry, it just seemed in line with everything that we’ve heard about him,” she explained.

A still of Richard during an interview from prison.
Source: YouTube

It was hard to get a straight answer from him, though, during that jail conversation which lasted three hours. If anything struck them as bizarre about the talk, it was the fact that while they knew this guy so well, he was surprising in a way…

It Messes You Up

Through all the intel they had gathered, they felt they knew him so well, but they realized they were also talking to someone unlike anyone they had ever met. “When people are lying to your face, it’s always destabilizing. It works… It messes you up,” Ewing noted.

A still of Richard during the interview in prison.
Source: YouTube

It came to the point where they asked him, directly, “How many times have you been married, and can you name your wives?” Even then, his answer wasn’t straightforward. After their conversation, the filmmakers found yet another wife, another wedding certificate, still unaccounted for.

The Tip of the Iceberg

Was chasing after a man on the run risky? Of course, but they wanted justice. “We were crossing our fingers the whole time,” Grady revealed. It was both “exciting but also nerve-rattling.”

A woman shows the engagement ring Richard gave her.
Ellen. Source: Showtime

He slipped through their fingers a few times, sometimes missing him by 10 minutes or so. The thrill “sustained us for the year we were chasing him,” Grady shared. “People have already been reaching out to us, based on seeing the trailer,” adding that they just discovered “the tip of the iceberg.”

It’s Shocking, Actually

When asked if they would do a sequel of Love Fraud, the producers made it pretty clear that it would be redundant. “We feel like we know that the ending is accurate. He’s still at it. He was still at it when we finished production. He was still at it when we premiered at Sundance. He was still at it last week.”

A portrait of some of his victims.
Richard Scott Smith’s victims. Source: Showtime

They might do another season on another guy. There are tons of love frauds these days, after all. Ewing and Grady have been getting tips on their personal stories. The amount? It’s shocking, actually.