29 May 2021


The Guardian reports conviction (and release on parole) of Samantha Azzopardi - who appeared in this blog here and here - after Australia, Ireland and Canada.

Azzopardi has a long history of dishonesty offences. In 2013 she showed up in central Dublin claiming to be a teenage sex-trafficking victim from eastern Europe. It cost the Irish government hundreds of thousands of dollars before her true identity was exposed. 

After being deported she emerged in Canada, where she said she was a victim of sexual assault and torture. 

In Australia, she convinced a Perth family she was a Russian gymnast named Emily whose entire family had been killed in a murder-suicide in France. 

In Sydney she passed herself off as a schoolgirl more than half her age. 

Azzopardi has criminal convictions for dishonesty offences in Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales, as well as for Commonwealth offences. 

Explanation? A psychiatrist reportedly referred to 'a highly traumatic upbringing including emotional neglect and physical abuse', characterising Azzopardi as having 'a severe personality disorder and pseudologia fantastica' - a '“rare but dramatic” psychiatric disorder involving an “extreme type of lying”'.

Another footnote for my forthcoming book on identity crime.

A 2017 SMH piece noted her conviction on fraud charges after Azzopardi posed as a 13-year-old Sydney high school student named Harper Hart, using a fake Californian birth certificate and pretending to be a child sex-trafficking victim. 

The piece is interesting as a quantification of crime costs, stating 

 Her lies cost NSW charities and government departments more than $155,000, a figure updated from an initial calculation of $20,000. ... 

Hornsby Local Court heard that Irish authorities spent more than $400,000 trying to establish who she was and where she had come from. ... 

Canadian authorities spent $150,000 on their investigation before realising she was the same woman at the centre of the Dublin saga. Azzopardi was charged with public mischief in Calgary and faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison but, after pleading guilty, she was sentenced to the two months she'd already served in custody. Again she was sent home to Australia. ... 

The Sydney court heard she had to trick NSW authorities into thinking she was still a teenager. She was given an iPad, a phone and Opal card from the not-for-profit Burdekin House, an ambulance transfer paid for by Good Shepherd Australia and medication from the NSW Department of Family and Community Services. The $155,000 cost of her frauds included counselling costs and wages.