The infamous Australian scammer Samantha Azzopardi was sentenced to imprisonment in Melbourne for stealing a child. She has a deep history of creating traces of false identities around the world.
Emily Pete, Lindsey Coughlin, Dakota Johnson, Georgia McCorriff, Harper Hernandez, Harper Hart. Behind all these names-and more-was just one woman: Sydney-born serial scammer Azzopardi, 32. For the past decade, she has been arrested under the supposed names in Ireland, Canada, and various states in her home country.
She was sentenced to two years in prison on Friday, forging her eligibility to get a job as a live-in nanny and taking two small children across Victoria without permission.
Melbourne’s magistrate Johanna Metcalf said the motive behind the “strange crime” remains unclear.
In the past, Azzopardi pretended to be a victim of sexual trafficking. She is a Swedish royal family and claims that the entire family is a Russian gymnast who died in a murder-suicide case. She pretended to be a young teenager in her twenties and early thirties. And she often avoided it because of her slight body shape, soft voice, and tendency to bite her fingers nervously.
For years she has been in trouble with the authorities. She was deported from abroad and imprisoned for a short period of time. Still, the story seemed endless.
As the Justice of the Peace pointed out, there is no financial motivation for her actions and she does not appear to be actively seeking fame.
During the trial, the court heard that she was diagnosed with severe personality disorder and a rare condition called lying.
Exams are repeatedly delayed due to care issues.
Fake au pair
The latest proceedings stem from a 2019 case in Victoria involving a French couple who remained anonymous.
Azzopardi told them she was an 18-year-old au pair called Saka. She asked to take her children to a picnic during a short period of employment, but instead of staying in her hometown of Geelong, she took her to Bendigo, about 200 km (120 miles) away, where she was found by a police detective. Was done.
She visited a nearby counseling service and presented herself as a pregnant teenager before being intercepted at a department store. She was in uniform and arranged for a stranger to pretend to be her father and call the service.
Previously, Azzopardi spent almost a year as the nanny of Australian professional basketball player Tom Jarvis and his wife, Jese, who turned from a former lawyer to a life coach.
The couple found her through Au Pair’s web service and said she initially trusted her. She moved to their home and moved with them from Brisbane to Melbourne. But when the couple received a report about her pretending to be a casting agent using Mrs. Jarvis’ identity, her story began to unravel. She said she would make friends with a 12-year-old girl and get a job as a narration artist for Pixar movies.
“I treated her like a daughter” Mrs. Jarvis told the Australian website MamaMiaWhen she learned the truth, she said she felt a breach. “We knew she was lying to us. It didn’t make any sense.”
Play mute in Dublin
Irish police detective David Gallagher also had a strange encounter with Azzopardi when he appeared in Dublin in October 2013.
At that time he didn’t know her name. No one did. In the local media, she later became known as a GPO girl. This is because she was found outside Dublin’s Central Post Office. Garda Siochana (Irish police) refused to speak, although she seemed to be suffering, keeping pace with her back and forth.
Authorities feared she was a victim of trafficking as two police officers took her to the hospital and she didn’t say a word for weeks.
She never told them her age, but she showed through hand signals that she was 14 years old.
Police investigators examined CCTV footage and conducted a visit. They worked with child welfare professionals to contact the Missing Persons Service, Interpol, Forensic Institute, Immigration Bureau, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Units.
Noting that her tooth brace was recently installed, they contacted pediatric orthodontists nationwide to see if they remember her.
Det Supt Gallagher said she always had questions beyond her age, but he never thought she wasn’t entirely genuine. “There was no end,” he told the BBC. “She was put in a children’s hospital and didn’t eat or talk. It wasn’t fun.”
His investigative force had to seek special permission from the High Court to share her photo in the case of a public plea for information because she was considered a minor.
Nevertheless, someone recognized her. The contact information for the family she was with at the beginning of her trip to Ireland. Azzopardi was identified and accompanied by police to fly back to Australia. She never spoke on that trip.
“When the truth about her situation and age was revealed, this was divided between the people on the research team and those who manage the research,” said Det Sapt Gallagher.
“There was a call to go into a criminal investigation for making false reports and wasting police time, but others, including myself, had never spoken to her in the legal sense, so I felt that I didn’t actually make any statements or false reports. This issue should be treated as a mental health and welfare issue. “
She received a mental health assessment, but her problem was not considered to be at a level requiring intervention.
Kidnapping invented in Calgary
The following year, Azzopardi appeared in Calgary, Canada. A similar story came out, but this time she uttered it. She claimed to be Aurora Hepburn, a 14-year-old victim of abuse who escaped the kidnapper. She was 26 at the time.
Again, investigators and healthcare professionals spent weeks in the case until someone discovered the story of Dublin and made a connection.
This time she was convicted of mischief for misleading Calgary police.
Police child abuse unit Kerry Campbell said, “It has had a significant impact on many experts working on this investigation, being convinced that this is a real event and fearing that there are victims. Gave. More victims were there. “
Calgary Herald was shown to have worked as an au pair again after obtaining another passport from Australian authorities just six months after Azzopardi was deported from Ireland, according to a document submitted at the hearing. I did.
Azzopardi was deported from Canada and again given a police escort to Australia.
There were countless other stories, countless other identities. US backpacker Emily Bamberger, In 2014, Azzopardi told the Courier how she manipulated her in Sydney., Just before the Canadian episode. She told her that she was the Swedish royal family, Anika Decker, and was kidnapped when she was a young girl.
On another occasion, Azzopardi made Perth’s family believe that he was a Russian gymnast. The entire family died in a murder-suicide case in France.
In one of the most unusual cases, she was convinced by a social welfare agency in Sydney that she was a teenage victim and managed to enroll in school and be placed in foster care.
Azzopardi wore blue prison clothes and a matching face mask, had blonde hair on his head on a bun, and, due to Covid’s restrictions, looked at the ground when a decision was made via a video link. It was.
This time she pleaded guilty.
Defendant lawyer Jessica Willard said the client has no plans to keep or harm her two children (4 and 10 months old) from her parents.
Justice of the peace agreed that they were not physically hurt, but expressed concern about the emotional damage to the family and another 12-year-old who she manipulated and promised a movie role.
She also acknowledged concerns about Azzopardi’s mental health. The court heard how she had been exposed to serious trauma and abuse in the past.
Psychiatrist Jacqueline Rakov recommended that she be released if she received voluntary treatment and case management under the services of a specialist, but the prison refused to make the necessary referrals.
This means that Azzopardi has already spent more than a year and a half in pretrial detention and may be eligible for parole. The prosecution claimed that there was a high probability of recidivism.
Det Supt Gallagher said he had been tracking her case from a distance for the past eight years. Whenever she appeared somewhere new, people sent him clips frequently.
Regarding the huge and costly hunting she caused in Ireland, he said: “”
“The question is whether the prison is the right place for her. Is it a mental health agency? Is she dangerous to herself or to others? In Ireland, she is not dangerous to herself. Was or someone else, though she was quite annoying. “