Serial conwoman posed as schoolgirl, Russian gymnast and au pair in web of lies

The Daily Star’s FREE newsletter is spectacular! Sign up today for the best stories straight to your inbox

An Australian woman charged with an extraordinary 55 offences has finally been jailed after years on the run and several bizarre fake personas.

Serial con artist Samantha Azzopardi, 31, tricked dozens of people into believing she was an au pair, a sex trafficking and torture victim, a Russian gymnast whose entire family were murdered and a schoolgirl half her age.

A psychiatrist told the court Azzopardi had a "severe personality disorder", which the defendant claimed had motivated some of her crimes and extreme lying.

The most serious charge of child stealing resulted from when Azzopardi took a couple's infant children on a 'day trip' from Melbourne to Bendigo, 90 miles away.

She was finally arrested after being spotted inside a mental health centre — here's how her web of lies was untangled.

Duped parents

Azzopardi created a whole identity for herself as a French 18-year-old called Sakah, gaining the trust of parents who hired her as an au pair.

Two weeks after moving into the couple's Melbourne home, she promised to take the four-year-old and 10-month-old children on a picnic, ending up on the other side of the county.

She entered a counselling service and said she had been impregnated by her uncle, even going as far as to have an unknown person call pretending to be her dad.

But the ruse failed when a Victoria Police detective in the child abuse protection squad spotted her and chased her into a store.

The French couple told the court they are now scared to leave their children in the care of anyone else.

Far from the first

But that French couple, who chose to remain anonymous, were not the first people Azzopardi tricked in a long campaign of danger and deception.

Basketball player Tom Jarvis and his wife Jazze hired who they thought was a 17-year-old American girl called Harper Hernandez.

She began living with them, looking after the children and even helping them move across the country from Brisbane to Melbourne.

At the same time she pretended to be a talent agent called Marlee and duped young women into believing they would appear on TV.

Irish Connection

Azzopardi also made headlines in Dublin in 2014 when she was spotted wandering around the street pretending to be a trafficking victim.

It cost the Irish state €200k to get her the help she needed before they realised she was a con artist.

A security source told her magazine she was notorious around the world for such scams.

They said: "She is an international woman of mystery, a scam artist, who we now believe is involved in some sort of bizarre ruse.

"She has done this kind of thing before. This is a 'catch me if you can' scenario although it is accepted that she has psychiatric issues."

Final sentencing

Get latest news headlines delivered free

Want all the latest shocking news and views from all over the world straight into your inbox?

We've got the best royal scoops, crime dramas and breaking stories – all delivered in that Daily Star style you love.

Our great newsletters will give you all you need to know, from hard news to that bit of glamour you need every day. They'll drop straight into your inbox and you can unsubscribe whenever you like.

You can sign up here – you won't regret it…

Overseeing Magistrate Johanna Metcalf decided Samantha was deserving of more prison time for the most serious offence of child stealing.

But she admitted she was puzzled as to why Azzopardi is the way she is.

Metcalf said: "To me, the motive behind your bizarre offending remains unclear.

"I accept that the children were not taken from their parents for prolonged periods, that you did not intend to permanently deprive the parents of their offspring, also that you did not harm or threatened to harm children.

"You weren't motivated by financial gain or by a desire to keep the children for yourself.

"You had a highly traumatic upbringing during which you were emotionally neglected and physically abused to an extreme degree by your mother and subjected to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse at the hands of your father and stepfather."

But Magistrate Metcalf concluded Samantha's "extreme type of lying" and manipulating children warranted more jail time.

She may not have to serve any more prison time as she has already spent 574 days in prison on remand.

And with time already served, she is now eligible for parole and may not serve a single day.

  • Crime

Source: Read Full Article