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Thursday, 2 August 2012

Victims Fight Back

Liz McIntyre

TWO women from Mount Isa are featuring in globally televised documentary that will screen to millions of viewers.

But rather than being seen as the victims of a love rat or a heart-break bandit, both women are pleased and proud that they busted Harper and saw him jailed for fraud for nine months in Melbourne.

Rochelle Fisher and Diana Mors were both deceived by con artist Andrew Harper who has 23 female victims that the women know of.

Now, thanks to the documentary, millions of people around the world will be warned about the man they call a skilled manipulator, a sociopath who feels no remorse.

Harper was released from jail in August last year and fled to Europe earlier this year, so Ms Mors and Ms Fisher hope their show will prevent other people from being duped there.

"It is not just women who have been the victims of his cons; men have been duped too, both personally and through their businesses," Ms Mors said.

She said she was taken in by him, and took him in, for only two weeks - but others had longer relationships with the plausible con man.

Ms Fisher met Harper through a share-accommodation website when she was living in Adelaide.

"He moved in, swept me off my feet and at the same time came up with a great idea for my business.

"I thought we were going to be making a TV show together - he conned a film production crew, some celebrities, talent agents and many business people.

"The show was a scam and Andrew pocketed the money.

"I believed he was covering all of the bills but when he left me, I found a stack of $60,000 worth of bills hidden away."
Ms Fisher said she had to declare bankruptcy and face the reality that the six months of her life with Harper had been a lie.
He then went to Melbourne and did the same thing to his next victim, Ms Fisher said.
"She went to the police and a detective found the website and blog Diana had started up about Harper, recognised him as the con man and were able to arrest him."
Ms Mors paid tribute to the Melbourne detective Alex Montgomery who pursued Harper and brought him to justice.
"I'm triumphant and I'm very proud that I was able to catch him," she said.
She wanted to stress the story was not just another "dating botch-up" but it was about the work of a very skilled, devious charlatan.
"None of us actually handed over money to this man; he was just a parasite.
"He stayed at apartments for free, he lived off women and deceived businessmen.
"He got flown to places and signed contracts for property, a plane and a boat."
What drove Harper was risk, Ms Mors said.
"He is a sociopath and lacks empathy.
"Conning is his livelihood and he works at it."
Ms Fisher said she wanted to speak out for all conned victims who couldn't speak out for themselves in the hope that people would blame the perpetrator and not the victim.
"I am very grateful that we had the opportunity to shine the international spotlight on Andrew Harper and on con artists in general.""Victims of con artists feel stupid after it happens to them and they don't want to talk about it, because they feel ashamed and often friends and family add to the feeling of shame by blaming the victim.
The program, airing on the Crime and Investigation Network, will be screened on Foxtel in Australia later in the year.

SURVIVOR: Rochelle Fisher recreates a scene where she googles Andrew Harper's name.

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