Wednesday 23 August 2017

Serial con artist who duped Irish authorities now facing 10 years in jail for fraud in Australia

Samantha Azzopardi cost the Irish state more than €250,000 at the time

Samantha Azzopardi (inset) cost the Irish state more than €250,000 when she turned up outside the GPO in Dublin in October 2013
Samantha Azzopardi (inset) cost the Irish state more than €250,000 when she turned up outside the GPO in Dublin in October 2013
Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

A serial con artist who previously duped the Irish authorities into believing she was the victim of sex trafficking is now facing up to 10 years in jail in Australia for a similar fraud.

Samantha Azzopardi cost the Irish state more than €250,000 when she turned up outside the GPO in Dublin in October 2013. She didn't speak but produced a series of drawings suggesting that she had been raped.

Due to her young appearance detectives believed that the then 25-year-old was in her mid teens. Eventually gardaí secured High Court permission to release her photograph and a family member soon came forward to identify Azzopardi as a serial conwoman.

Now local media is reporting that Azzopardi has pulled a similar stunt in her native Australia.

According to news.com.au the now 28-year-old appeared in a Sydney court earlier today charged over a scam in which she posed as a 13-year-old schoolgirl named Harper Hart.

She received nearly AUS$20,000 (€13,500) worth of services from the New South Wales government and charities after telling authorities she was a sex trafficking victim when she turned up at a school in the city.

Samantha Azzopardi: claimed to be a victim of abduction.
Samantha Azzopardi: claimed to be a victim of abduction.

Among the items given to her were a phone, an iPad and a public transport card.

According to the website, Azzopardi pleaded guilty to four fraud offences earlier this month and now faces up to 10 years in prison.

She appeared via video link earlier today and kept her head down the entire time, quietly answering “yes” when magistrate Daniel Reiss asked if she understood the outcome of the hearing, AAP reported.

Azzzopardi has a long history of fraud and less than a year after appearing in Dublin she walked into a clinic in Calgary, Canada claiming that her name was Aurora Hepburn, that she was 14 and that she had been a victim of an abduction, sexual assault and torture.

She was deported after police spent CAN$150,000 (€101,000) investigating her bogus claims.

She has not applied for bail in this latest case and is due to be sentenced on July 19.

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