"In case this wasn’t obvious, Love Fraud definitely fits into the WTF genre of docuseries," says Jen Chaney. "If it were on Netflix, I’d say, without a doubt, that it will be the next Tiger King. Instead it’s on Showtime — the first episode airs Sunday night — where it’s a bit less likely to capture the attention of a large number of viewers, and also won’t drop all at once. As in the olden times, audiences will have to wait each week for a new episode. On the other hand, that slower rollout could help to build buzz. There are moments in Love Fraud that elicit the same kind of adrenaline rush as a spy movie might: car chases, PIs, and bounty hunters doing their best to stay on (con artist Richard Scott) Smith’s tail, and active internet sleuthing, much of it done on a blog updated constantly by Smith’s victims with information about his possible whereabouts and who his next victims might be. There are some unnecessary attempts to amp up the drama, particularly in the form of mixed-media graphic interstitials that occasionally take the audience out of the natural trajectory of the story. There’s no need to do anything extra in this story. It’s extra enough as it is. Even if there’s no one in the room with you, you’ll turn to the molecules in the air and say, 'Oh my God, can you believe what this guy did?'”
Love Fraud is the feel-good true-crime caper of the summer: "Why do so many women love true crime? The question has come up over and over again amid the current genre renaissance—one sparked by stories about dead women and the men accused of killing them," says Judy Berman. "Rachel Monroe, the author of 2019’s Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession, has made the subversive suggestion that 'perhaps we liked creepy stories because something creepy was in us.' For obvious reasons, no one is really making the case that women find crime stories uplifting. Some have speculated that female true-crime fans are, consciously or otherwise, seeking information that will help them stay safe; others figure they find it cathartic to watch their worst fears play out from a safe distance. Yet uplifting—for female viewers in particular—is indeed the way to describe Love Fraud, a tight, energetic four-episode Showtime docuseries that premieres on August 30. Filmmaking duo Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp, One of Us) probe the strange case of Richard Scott Smith, a man who marries women and drains their bank accounts before moving on to his next target. True-crime fans will surely hear echoes of Dirty John, the hit podcast turned Bravo docudrama about a wealthy businesswoman who weds the doting doctor of her dreams, only to realize he’s actually a litigious, violent ex-con. But while that story asks how such an apparently savvy, successful woman could allow herself to be so catastrophically misled, Love Fraud’s aim is to restore the dignity of Smith’s victims. With help from the directors and a bounty hunter named Carla who seems destined to be the show’s breakout star, several of them band together to take him down."
Love Fraud tries to tell a different version of the classic con artist tale: "It’s not about a group of women sitting down to warn others of the dangers of dating; it’s about a gang of women hellbent on obtaining revenge and justice by any means necessary. This broken hearts club is out to break some skulls," says Kristen Lopez. "In some regards, Love Fraud feels like a natural successor to Netflix’s runaway success from earlier this year, Tiger King. Both are filled with bizarre twists and turns, and both feature a loud, brash, colorful outsider at their center. But, really, Love Fraud is like Tiger King if you keep the entertainment and WTF-story, but remove the racism and animal abuse. Ewing and Grady give audiences’ a story as juicy as can be, but with an emphasis on the fears women face, and the way people manipulate their stories for their own ends."
Love Fraud could steal Tiger King's crown: "Love Fraud lets us in on eerie late-night drives down pastoral stretches of Missouri interstates, frustrating stakeouts in residential and commercial neighborhoods, and tense calls to newly discovered girlfriends Smith is two-timing to warn them of what’s ahead," says Tracy Moore. "A slew of private eyes are folded into the mix. Just when it seems like we’ve got a visual lock on him at this bar or that restaurant, he slips away again."