Houston man tricked by phony heiress shares wild story

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A former Houston news personality who said he fell for one of the most common scams is sharing his story to help others avoid becoming a victim.

Johnathan Walton, who is widely known as "The Con Hunter," said he was tricked by a woman who claimed to be an Irish heiress. She claimed her family was trying to swindle her out of her massive inheritance.

"We thought, 'Wow! This woman is really important. She's Irish royalty,'" he recalled. "The majority of victims of con artists are ashamed. That enables the con artist. Publicity is like kryptonite for con artists."

Walton said he lost nearly $100,000 throughout their four-year friendship. He went public with his story and created a blog after police turned him away and told him there was nothing they could do to help him.

Walton then started his own investigation and posted all the developments on his personal online blog. He uncovered 45 other victims.

"She had victims in Florida, Tennessee and all over California," said Walton.

He said he even got a call from a police detective in northern Ireland.

"She conned 22 people out of $500,000," recalled Walton. "[The detective] said he'd been looking for her for 10 years."

Eventually, police finally filed charges on the woman and went to court. Four victims testified, including Walton.

"She's in jail now in L.A.," said Walton. "When she gets out of jail next year, she will be extradited to northern Ireland to face charges ... all because I went public."

ABC's new television series titled "The Con" features interviews with people and victims caught up in wild scams.

Walton will be sharing his story on national television for the first time this Wednesday.

"I was so ignorant," he admits. "Cons are something that happens in the movies."

He never imagined this would happen to him, but he hopes others listen carefully.

"If anything, watch," he said, "Just to see what the signs are. I lay them all out."

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW IN THE VIDEO ABOVE

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