A serial con artist who’s previously duped authorities in Ireland and Canada into thinking she was a child sex abuse victim held by human traffickers has pleaded guilty to fresh fraud offences.
This time, she posed as a 13-year-old Sydney schoolgirl and was placed in foster care.
Sydney woman Samantha Azzopardi, 28, pleaded guilty in Hornsby Local Court on Thursday to four counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception.
In her most recent con, Azzopardi went by the name Harper Hart, court documents show, although she’s been known to have used more than 40 aliases in the past.
She also obtained an iPad, Opal cards and a mobile phone from the Burdekin Association, a northern Sydney not-for-profit organisation.
Azzopardi also reused her previous claims of being a victim of sexual abuse and human trafficking and even accessed counselling services from the Victims of Crime Assistance League.
But things started to unravel when the Department of Families became suspicious and alerted police.
In opposing Azzopardi’s initial bail application, police said she had an ‘extensive history of providing false documentation, obtaining passports in false names and assuming identities of other persons’ in Queensland, Western Australia, Ireland and Canada.
‘The accused is known to lie about her age purporting to be a 13-year-old girl and the victim of sexual trafficking,’ the court document states.
‘Police believe the accused is a considerable flight risk and if released, will assume another false identity and/or flee the country.’
The ‘significant costs’ of overseas investigations were also cited.
Azzopardi became well known in 2013 when she was found wandering the streets of Dublin and duped Irish authorities into thinking she was a trafficking victim from eastern Europe.
She drew pictures apparently showing herself being raped, with Irish police releasing a photo of her as they tried to determine her identity.
They reportedly spent more than $350,000 on the investigation before discovering she was an Australian con artist and not a child.
Azzopardi was deported after a psychiatrist found she wasn’t suffering from a mental disorder that enabled her to be detained under the Mental Health Act.
The following year, she was charged with public mischief in Canada after walking into a Calgary health centre claiming to be a 14-year-old who was the victim of an abduction and prolonged sexual assault. She used the alias Aurora Hepburn.
Canadian authorities spent $150,000 on their investigation before realising she was the same woman at the centre of the Dublin saga.
At her Hornsby court appearance, Azzopardi’s duty solicitor questioned the seriousness of the offences and said no monetary value had been determined.
She did not apply for bail when she appeared at Hornsby Local Court on Thursday. She is scheduled to appear in court from prison on video link on June 28.