Editor’s note: Andrew J. Harper wasn’t who he said he was. He wasn’t a professional drag racer and he didn’t own properties in Europe. But at least 17 women in Australia, New Zealand and the United States believed him—and many lost money because they did.
Two of his victims, Diana Mors, who posts on Lovefraud as “AJH_Victim1,” and Rebecca Bell, worked together to find the truth, and the con man was finally arrested in October, 2010. The women told their story in the January 2011 issue of The Australian Woman’s Weekly, and then in the North West Star. Read:
”˜How I caught a con man’ on NorthWestStar.com.au
With the publicity, the women have been contacted by many victims of con men. Diana, feeling compelled to help them, wrote the following article.
How to transition from victim to survivor”¦
By Diana Mors
Know why you were conned—because you are kind, compassionate and caring. Also because your were targeted and his/her mission was to “get” you.
Forgive yourself, this is so important! Initially you will feel like an accomplice; most victims do.
Understand your perpetrator. The person you let in your life is NOT the one who enters. They rely on your complicity, embarrassment and humiliation to get away with their con. You invited them in, spent money, etc.—but on a pretext of lies. This person is fictitious and imaginary, even though they are there in front of you in 3D.
Just accept that they do not/cannot/will not have a moral compass like you do. They lack empathy, conscience, ethics, principles and scruples. So yes, they can sleep at night—often quite comfortably and usually at your expense. Do not try to work them out, you cannot.
Where to from here:
Go to the police and file a report. Insist! I got fobbed off by a Senior Sgt. four times trying to get me to not report. You will hear terms such as, “It will be difficult to prove,” well just how much is involved, etc. Keep insisting. I just kept saying, “Yes I know, but I still want it reported and would like a crime number please.” I said this four times and finally got my report taken.
Also police will recognise fraud in a business/corporate context, but seem disinterested in an individual’s case”¦.. INSIST, INSIST, INSIST. Give only copies of any evidence and keep originals. This has been key to the charges on our guy going from two to 34. One of our co-survivors kept everything.
There are the laws in various states on fraud and deception. Do your homework and take a copy of the legislation (pertinent parts) to the police if you must. In Queensland the law states:
Fraud is behaviour that’s deceptive, dishonest, corrupt or unethical.
For a fraud to exist there needs to be an offender, a victim and an absence of control or safeguards.
Here in Queensland, the laws on fraud involve dishonesty in any of these situations:
- obtaining property belonging to someone else
- applying someone else’s property to one’s own use
- causing a detriment to another person or entity
- gaining a benefit or advantage for any person; and
- inducing or causing any person to deliver property to another person
The more people that report these crimes, the more the authorities are going to have to take notice. Our perpetrators rely on us blaming ourselves and NOT reporting to continue in their craft.
It has taken years for crimes such as music piracy to be recognised in the legal system and it may take years for this type of fraud to be given credibility, but the more of us that do it the more they have to take notice. What happened is NOT acceptable AND should be reported—not trivialised
Go to your doctor and get counseling — you can get 12 free psych visits with a doctors referral — you NEED this, for you, for your family, for your kids. You need to talk this out. You have been violated and have suffered trauma.
Lovefraud.com—get on this site and read up; it is so helpful and beneficial. Join the mailing list. And seek out information that can help you. Get the book Without Conscience by Dr. Robert Hare.
Get support and understanding. Family, friends, colleagues, us, Facebook—seek it out wherever you can. A support group like ours circumvents the need to explain how you got conned—we know how it happens and are just there for each other. You will get people who will say things like, how on earth did you get conned, didn’t you realise when such and such happened? No one can possibly understand until they have been there, and we do not want to see more people there.
Set up blog
If you want to, set up a website/blog. Set it up on Google. This may cost money; you may need a webmaster to do this for you. Use verifiable facts ONLY—if you have incontrovertible proof it is a lie, then list it. What was the lie, how did you prove it was a lie and any reference material. Be objective and matter of fact. If you can’t write it, then get some one else to on your behalf. Be 100 percent honest and keep emotion out of it.
When I set up the website on our con I was taking a risk and I knew it. If our guy was genuine and innocent he could have come after me, but I was so confident that I had the necessary facts and evidence to support that his claims were complete and utter lies that I was happy to take the chance and confront him if it ever came to that.
Accept the change
You WILL be forever changed. Accept that. It does not mean suck it up, simply you cannot go back and have the life, sense of worth, trust, comfort that you had before. Additionally though, you are now stronger and wiser.
Can you empower yourself? Yes, join support groups such as our Facebook group ConnedInAus.
When I initially went pubic, having my photograph in the newspaper, I knew that I was setting myself up to criticism, but as I said to our Melbourne journalist, someone has to be the face of this crime. No matter how humiliating, how embarrassing or what criticism may come my way, I knew my self esteem could handle it. I am a small business owner, single and childless, so I had no one to protect if my identity was made public. Additionally, I wanted our con to know that I was still out there chasing him. I had support in Rebecca Bell, as we had supported each other in the 18 months leading up to his downfall. I am so grateful that Rebecca then came with me to do the A Current Affair report, and had to deal with a lot of her own demons in going public.
Overwhelmingly the feedback has been positive for going public—comments of how brave and courageous we were together with the odd “attagirl” and lots of thanks for sharing our tale. There have been a couple of individuals who feel they are entitled to ridicule us, but so far they are in the minority; we do not even waste our time defending our position. In fact, others have actually come to our rescue in those instances and put them in their place on our behalf.
I can tell you I have never felt such euphoria as when our guy was arrested. It was just utter joy. Having lived on the edge of my seat for two years trying to track him, knowing he was hurting someone else and being powerless to do anything, was excruciating.
I hope this helps you make the important transition that you require to empower yourself and move forward. In sharing this information I hope you find a path to recovery.