Heartbreak bandit strikesVICTIMS of a serial love cheat - who is on the run after fleecing hundreds of thousands of dollars from women all over Australia, the United States and Europe - have told how the conman broke their hearts and ruined their lives.
Andrew John Harper, who boasts his favourite movie is Catch Me If You Can, poses as a high-roller businessman who claims to be worth $1.6 billion.
He also claims to be the second richest man in Australia, but as soon as he gains his innocent victims' trust, the tubby tattooed 39-year-old conman swindles his carefully chosen targets for all the money he can get.
Harper's lies and deception are so convincing they span a decade and have left at least 17 women in his wake.
Still reeling from the ordeal, the shattered mother of two agreed to go public with her story to warn other women of his deceit.
Ms Pizzey, whose sons are 13 and 10, said Harper contacted her on an online dating website using the identity "Chivalryisnotdeadxx".
He introduced himself as Dr Ryan Reece DuPont and said he was moving to Mornington and wanted to make friends in the area.
"He very quickly brought me into his fake world via email," Ms Pizzey said.
"He said he was in the midst of selling an internet privacy program to Google.
"Later came emails about owning wind farms and developing land in ski resort Aspen, Colorado, US, with billionaire airline magnate Richard Branson.
"He didn't sell or force any of these points to me, he mentioned them fleetingly within conversations, but the seeds were planted that he was a very successful global entrepreneur," Ms Pizzey said.
"Very slowly I was being made aware of his money. It would trickle out in conversations. He would say things like, 'I'll give you $10,000 if you don't go into work today'.
"But it was important to me that he knew it was not about money, that I was a person of integrity.
"It was all reverse psychology. He had no money and if I had been greedy and asked for it, I would have found him out straight away.
"My good nature was the green light he needed to con me."
Ms Pizzey said she was highly suspicious of Harper, but said he had an answer for everything.
"I thought it was too good to be true," she said.
"I questioned everything he told me but he answered everything with so much detail and had so much information to back it up you felt silly for doubting him.
"I kept thinking, 'what would a conman want with little old me in my unit?'
"I was still cautious and tried to research him, but when I put his name into Google, absolutely nothing came up."
That was because Ryan DuPont did not exist. Harper created the alias after devastated past victims set up a warning website in his name.
After convincing women of his staggering fortune, Harper then tells a heart-wrenching story.
Diana Mors, 44, from Brisbane, lost $2000 in nine days.
"He told me he was engaged to a Swedish woman called Anna but that she died in a car crash just two weeks before the wedding," Ms Mors said.
"He said it had taken him ages to get over her and has travelled around the world searching for 'The One' ever since.
"It's simply a story designed to pull at your heartstrings and make you feel sorry for him."
Harper also promises to shower his unsuspecting victims with expensive gifts and a lavish lifestyle.
Ms Pizzey said they even went to a luxury car dealership in Richmond where he promised to buy a sportscar.
"He picked out a Maserati GranTurismo for me and said he would buy a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano for himself," Ms Pizzey said.
"My jaw was on the floor and staff were treating him like a king, thinking he is spending $640,000. They didn't doubt he was real and nor did I."
But before signing on the dotted line, Harper asked for the sale contract to be sent to his lawyer, called Ken Bradshaw.
The cars were never bought and Ken Bradshaw was thought to be another fake character in Harper's vivid imagination. The reality is Harper could not even afford the simple staples in life.
During shopping trips, Harper explained away having no cash to buy simple groceries by flying into a rage and claiming that his Swiss bank account had been frozen.
He claimed to be associated with someone being investigated for tax evasion.
Ms Pizzey said: "I had been bombarded with photos of houses he owns around the world, boats and cars he said he owned, a picture of him on his private jet, pictures of him on tropical islands and he was seemingly buying luxury cars and houses in front of me."
When victims begin to get suspicious, another golden incentive is dangled in front of them.
"I wanted Mr Harper out because there was no spark," Ms Pizzey said.
"That's when he told me he wanted to set up a $10 million trust fund for my quadriplegic nephew and buy his family a house so that they had no financial worries.
"Romantically I had no feelings for him, but I thought he was a great person who was doing great things for others."
For Ms Pizzey, the final straw was when a holiday to Disneyland was cancelled several times, crushing her children's dreams.
"I was at the point of exhaustion. We had a massive row and I fell asleep at 4am, emotionally drained," she said.
"That morning I woke up at 6am to find he had fled, taking only his mobile phone.
"I think he knew I was going to call the police. Officers found out his real identity and then I discovered the website and all his other victims.
"He impacted every area of my life and destroyed it. I've got nothing left now.
"I'm not a person taken by money, I'm a caring person but by being a good person, I've hurt a lot of people by introducing Mr Harper into their lives.
"The money is one thing, but knowing I've hurt other people is going to take a long, long time to heal. I have no idea where he is now, but it's almost certain he is doing it all over again to someone else right now.
"He is pure evil."
Harper is wanted for questioning by police in five states for fraud and deception.
He was last seen in Mornington on October 22.
Detective Sen-Constable Alex Montgomery said: "Victoria Police is investigating a 39-year-old male for a range of fraud and deception offences."
- Sunday Herald Sun
- November 07, 2010
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
Net closes on conman - victims hunt romantic fraud
VICTIMS of a serial heartbreaker have turned to the internet to warn women around the world not to fall for his smooth-talking ways.
Andrew John Harper, wanted in five states of Australia as well as the US and Europe for fraud and deception, allegedly dazzles women with claims he is the second richest man in Australia, worth $1.6 billion.
Once he gains his victim's trust, he allegedly sets about siphoning off her life savings.
he tubby tattooed 39-year-old from Wagga Wagga, who also goes by the names Ryan Reece DuPont and Andrew Karlsson, is believed to have swindled at least 17 women out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Recently divorced 36-year-old Victorian woman Katherine Pizzey, claimed she was duped out of $60,000 in just four months.
Now a group of women who have fallen for Harper's charms have struck back, plastering the web with photos of him, outlining his "modus operandi" and creating a Facebook group which shares the information.
- The Daily Telegraph
- November 09, 2010