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At it’s core, Showtime’s “Love Fraud” is a story about scorned women and their quest for revenge—butthe new docu-series would not be nearly as colorful without the regular commentary from foul-mouthed bounty hunter Carla Campbell.
Campbell signs on to try to help the women track down Richard Scott Smith—a man who allegedly made a regular practice of dating women he met online, molding himself to appear like the perfect partner, before gaining access to the women’s bank accounts, destroying their credit and taking off to find his next target.
“If Richard Scott Smith came in here and robbed me like he did these other women, I’d be in prison,” Campbell says during the four-part docu-series. “I’d have slit his throat and watched him bleed to death and then admitted to doing it, because I am not going to let him do that to somebody else.”
It’s Campbell’s salty, foul-mouthed commentary that give the docuseries its edge—but just where is the Kansas City area bounty hunter today?
Campbell has reportedly retired from Mannie’s Bonding Co. in Olathe, where the women often gathered in the series to plan their next move, and is now battling against her own nemesis: cancer.
Campbell’s explicative-laced tell-it-like-it-is approach to life is on full display in “Love Fraud” after she agrees to help the women try to track Smith down pro-bono.
But after visiting local karaoke bars, using the bonding company’s computer system and scouring the internet, Campbell hits an apparent dead end.
“This son-of-a-b---- is still out there and I have zero leads,” Campbell tells the woman at one point in the series.
The group remains staunchly committed to tracking down the man who destroyed their lives and eventually hire a series of private investigators who track Smith to Knoxville, Tennessee where he is arrested on a parole violation out of Polk County, Iowa.
Campbell told The Kansas City Star she agreed to participate in the docuseries to help the women get the justice they deserve.
“I’m only doing this for the girls, trying to get these girls some kind of happiness over all the B.S. they had to put up with,” she said, adding she was glad the filmmakers “did not make a spectacle” out of her.
Campbell first came in contact with Smith herself in 2017 after she bonded him out of jail on charges of identity theft in Johnson County, after his former fiancé Sabrina Dunlap told police that Smith had “maxed out her credit cards and drained their joint checking account,” according to an affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
Dunlap later told The Star that Smith had allegedly purchased two cars in her name, opened credit cards in her name and took out cable service in four Kansas City area apartments under her name.
Campbell didn’t know about the series of allegations Smith faced from a long string of women—including many who had married the alleged con artist—when she agreed to bond him out of jail.
“It was just like he walked through the door standing tall, head up high, like he didn’t just come out of jail,” she recalled of their first meeting according to The Star. “It was like he was going on a Sunday stroll. It was an arrogant thing. And then he was saying, ‘This is all a witch hunt.’”
Their paths would cross again after “Love Fraud” directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady reached out to her and detailed the lengthy set of allegations against Smith.
“She had no dog in the fight anymore…and there was no legal reason for her to be looking for him,” Ewing told the newspaper. “That’s why she just worked pro bono to help, because she wanted to bring him down…She’s like Calamity Jane, isn’t she?”
Campbell recounts the colorful story of how she became a bounty hunter in “Love Fraud.”
“I was a bartender and I was working one night and there was a lady and guy sitting at the bar and he slapped her, he backhanded her, and she of course flew off the bar stool and I was like ‘oh hell no,’” Campbell recalled.
She flew to the woman’s aid, “grabbed” the man around the neck and took him to the ground.
“He went to sleep,” she said.
The dramatic exchange caught the eye of another man in the bar that night who asked her if she ever thought about becoming a bounty hunter and told her she was “a fighter” and could handle the risk that accompanied the job.
Campbell’s motivation to help the scorned women in “Love Fraud” was also was linked to her own abusive past.
“I hate men that abuse woman in any way, shape or form,” she said in the docu-series. “The first guy I ever lived with beat me a lot…and I took it and I took it, and I finally walked away from that relationship and I never went back and I said, ‘no man will ever touch me again. I will kill anybody that ever tries to touch me again.’”
Campbell initially struggled with how the women in the docu-series were able to fall so easily under Smith’s spell, but eventually realized his attentive nature had helped lure the women in—despite him being an “utter weirdo,” she said.
“A guy who opens the door, who shows up out of nowhere with lunch, that was his charisma,” she told The Star. “That is what kept these women attracted to him. ‘He was so sweet and so kind,’ they said. But once he gets in the door, you’re done.”
Smith would sweep the women off their feet in whirlwind romances that often included a proposal—or in many cases, a marriage—even while he was still married to other women.
“He’s got to marry them to get into their pockets,” Campbell explained in the docuseries. “The marriage things come and when the marriage things come, everything he does is legal. There’s nothing they can do to him, because if he marries them, then it’s his. Community property.”
Campbell eventually retired from bounty hunting in late 2019 because of back problems and a cancer diagnosis, The Star reports.
According to a GoFundMe account set up to help Campbell pay for her medical costs, she’s been diagnosed with stage four metastasized lung cancer.
Oxygen.com reached out to Campbell but she's been as elusive about an interview as some of the people she used to track down.
"Love Fraud" aired the fourth and final installment of the series Sunday night.
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