'unsettling' | 

Sydney mother who hired infamous ‘GPO Girl’ speaks out on ‘sick to my stomach’ scam

A mother who was none-the-wiser when she hired the notorious ‘GPO Girl’ as a nanny for her baby daughter has told her story to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Samantha Azzopardi

Sunday World

An Australian mother who hired the infamous ‘GPO Girl’ as a nanny has opened up about her “unsettling experience” with scam artist Samatha Azzopardi.

Azzopardi pretended to be a trafficking victim when found wandering O’Connell Street in a distressed state in 2013 – sparking a national quest to find the identity of the child who was communicating with Gardaí through pencil drawings.

In reality, the girl was a then 25-year-old Australian woman, not the alleged child sex victim trafficked into Ireland like Gardaí had thought.

It cost Gardaí €250,000 to reveal her true identity and Azzopardi has since been charged more than 100 times in Australia for fraud and deception-related offences.

Now, a mother who was none-the-wiser when she hired Azzopardi as a nanny for her baby daughter has told her story to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Posing as a Polish woman, con woman Azzopardi made her way into the lives of Theresa Power and her young family, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The mother had recently given birth to her third child and was looking for a nanny when ‘Mayer’ messaged her on Facebook in August.

“My name is Mayer. I am 19 years old and I’m from Poland,” the message read. “I am always smiling, patient and calm … Please don’t hesitate to pm me.”

Power was over the moon with the new babysitter, she told The Sydney Morning Herald.

"The thing I can’t get past — and I’m sure every victim of a con feels this way — is how absolutely taken by her I was,” Power says.

“I was singing her praises to anyone who would listen, even recommending her to my neighbours. She seemed too good to be true. And obviously, in hindsight, she was.”

The family were confused when ‘Mayer’ stopped showing up to work, Power confessed. When her husband read a story about an international fraudster in the paper, a quick Google search revealed the extent of their new nanny’s crimes.

Azzopardi hadn’t ‘ghosted’ the family, she had been arrested on separate fraud charges. The scam artist had presented to a charity, pretending to be an abused French teenager and sparked a multi-agency investigation.

She was been accused of impersonating a 14-year-old French victim of sex trafficking who arrived in Australia to live with a foster family.

“I was terrified. Sick to my stomach,” Power said. “I had a pretty bad night’s sleep and called the police to report what had happened to us, first thing in the morning.”

The woman admitted that she missed a “number of red flags” when dealing with Azzopardi.

She never saw her passport, never received a mobile phone number or an email address for the woman. They only communicated on Facebook Messenger and Azzopardi had said she “had not been in the country long enough” to be vetted to work with children.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Australian police found “no offence” when looking into Power’s complaint.

The mother has now issued a warning to people hiring babysitters through social media.

"It’s a big decision, trusting your baby with someone and we placed so much weight on our gut instinct. It’s a very unsettling experience to realise that you can’t only rely on your gut feeling. It’s not enough,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Azzopardi has invented a number of bizarre identities to con families and international authorities to commit crimes such as stealing children and property.

In May, this year Azzopardi was ordered to serve a three-year community corrections order after telling Sydney police she was teenage cult member who had been sexually assaulted.

It is estimated she has been charged over 100 times for deception and fraud-related charges in Australia, as well as serious charges in Canada for claiming to be a 14-year-old victim of abduction and sexual assault.

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