Fake priest Ryan Scott traveled the Midwest and easily earned followers – many of which he would abuse and financially exploit. When Ryan scammed followers and 2 of his priest associates were brutally killed, many questions arose. Who really was Ryan? “Smoke Screen: Fake Priest” investigates Ryan’s con artistry, examines several allegations, and traces his path to priest-hood.
Investigative reporter Alex Schuman learned that “Father Ryan” continued his schtick for decades and started digging. He found those who knew Ryan, including his son, Jonathan Brady, and Ryan’s victims who tried to expose the truth for years. Join Alex’s journey through Ryan’s bizarre and dangerous world from the beginning of the series with all 9 episodes running less than 45 minutes each.
Ryan had a history of scamming, manipulating, and committing fraud long before he opened his first church in Wisconsin. By episode 3, we learn that Father Ryan had a “false prophet” mentor who helped him refine his scams and managed to avoid any criminal charges. Alex learns why prosecutors let so many criminals walk free, reasons that could have applied to Ryan’s cases.
When Father Ryan stole a follower’s property, money, and her husband’s ashes, she hired a lawyer, and a legal battle unfolded for unpaid loans and a herd of llamas Ryan left behind. In another swindle, Ryan took over $70,000 from one of his elderly followers, and he was arrested. Ryan would have served 7 years in prison, but his future changed when he met father-daughter private investigators who came to his defense. They learned the sheriff might have arrested Ryan for other motives.
In episode 7, we learn that Ryan connected himself to two priests who died in his autobiography. He accused 1 of molesting children, and he joined forces with the second priest to shame pedophile priests. Alex confronted Ryan in episode 8, and he confessed secrets from his past such as why he decided to become a “priest.”