An international con artist has been charged with her 100th offense after pretending to be a 14-year-old French victim of sex trafficking.
Samantha Azzopardi, 33, did not appear in Waverley Court on Friday when her lawyer entered a guilty plea to knowingly making a false representation to police that she was a victim of child neglect.
On Monday, Azzopardi told not-for-profit service provider JewishCare that she was a 14-year-old foreigner who had recently arrived in Australia to stay with a foster family after fleeing abuse in her native France.
When police arrived at an address in Woollahra to check out the claims, the scam artist tried to flee. She then told police she had been in the care of a couple since arriving in Australia five weeks ago.
When police tried to locate her foster family to ascertain whether they were adequate caregivers, Azzopardi led them on a wild-goose chase through the eastern suburbs and beaches.
In broken English with a heavy French accent, she claimed to be lost after living in five houses during the five weeks. Investigations found the names of the couple were entirely made up, and police believe correspondence to JewishCare from the couple was actually sent by Azzopardi.
NSW Police contacted the Department of Communities and Justice, Australian Border Force, Australian Federal Police, and even the French authorities to understand how the “teen” had arrived in Australia and to assess the claims of abuse.
Federal agents formed the suspicion that the “14-year-old French girl” was part of a human trafficking and sexual servitude ring. She said she spoke only French but then refused to engage with a French-speaking officer.
After nine hours of extensive investigations, authorities became suspicious and fingerprinted the “teen” to learn she was actually known con artist Samantha Azzopardi.
Although she claimed her name was Emily Bamberger (a former victim of her cons), the 33-year-old has been charged under the surname Azzapadari. Police confirmed the con artist has used more than 40 known aliases.
The Douglas Park resident has spent four nights behind bars on remand since being arrested on Monday.
On Friday, Waverley Court heard she did not wish to appear in court but admitted to lying to police.
The court heard Azzopardi “is a compulsive liar who suffers a number of mental health illnesses which no doubt is a catalyst for her offending”.
Azzopardi’s lawyer Richard Ikaafu told the court the facts indicated his client had severe personality disorder and schizophrenia.
Magistrate Ross Hudson ordered a sentencing assessment report to determine the mental health issues facing Azzopardi, which he said would determine the length of time she would spend in custody.
The magistrate noted the 33-year-old has an extensive history of reoffending, with recent convictions for “identical offending” in May and the serious offense of child stealing.
The fresh charge comes only three months after Ms. Azzopardi was sentenced to a three-year community corrections order for falsely claiming she was the victim of a cult member who held her captive and raped her.
Court documents reveal the new “identical charge” is a breach of her court order not to commit any new offenses.
The charges follow a disturbing and prolonged pattern of behavior for which Azzopardi has earned international infamy. In documents tendered to the court, police state she is a “global and interstate con artist” whose “notoriety has been widely reported”.
The 33-year-old made global headlines in 2013 when she was found wandering the streets of Dublin in Ireland.
She led Irish police to believe she was the victim of a human trafficking ring, which led to a widespread investigation that wasted more than €300,000.
A few years later, she was arrested after telling police in Canada that she was a victim of sexual exploitation and trafficking.
The serial con artist told Calgary police that she was a 14-year-old girl who had been abducted and subjected to ongoing sexual abuse. Canadian authorities wasted more than $150,000 on looking into the claims.
The 33-year-old was charged and deported from both countries after her claims were proven to be false.
However, Australian authorities have also fallen prey to Azzopardi’s lies. The court documents show this new charge will be the 100th charge laid against her in numerous jurisdictions across the country.
Azzopardi was jailed in May 2021 for at least 12 months after being convicted of stealing two children after being hired as a nanny under a false name. Two months after she was released, she lied about being a victim of sexual assault in Sydney.
At the time of her sentencing for her lies in May, the court heard Azzopardi is living with anxiety, depression, and established borderline personality disorder.
“The accused poses a significant risk to the community (and) her uncontrollable desire to make fictitious reports sees countless resources being drawn from legitimate victims … to investigate her lies and deception,” police assert in documents tendered to the court.
The documents show the notorious scam artist has also been diagnosed with a condition called pseudologia fantastica, which manifests itself as compulsive and pathological lying.
Azzopardi will remain behind bars on remand until she returns to court in October.