TV Review | Con Girl
75 aliases, three continents, one woman. This is her story – all of them. We review the disturbing Paramount Plus documentary series, Con Girl.
When I sat down to watch the 4-part series from Paramount Plus, Con Girl, I expected to sit back comfortably, watch it, and forget it the following morning. No chance. When I finished the fourth and final episode, I was astonished. Why? Because what I had just finished watching was disturbing, and worrisome. Mainly because it is all TRUE. The series takes the audience on a journey through the unknown mind of a serial liar. Why did she do what she did? What was her ultimate motivation? How did she get away with her actions time and again? Spoiler alert: to this day, nobody knows the real answer. And we probably never will.
In 2011, Russian gymnast Emily Sciberras tells her new best friend that her entire family has been killed in a murder-suicide, including her 15-year-old twin sister. In 2013, a distressed teenage girl with no name is found on the streets of Dublin after escaping a human trafficking ring. She is so traumatized she is unable to speak. In 2014, 14-year-old Aurora Hepburn appears at a clinic in Canada after escaping a terrifying kidnapper.
What do these women and their terrifying stories have in common? They are all fake identities, convincingly created by one Australian woman – Samantha Azzopardi – a serial con artist who has amassed more than 75 aliases and repeatedly deceived her victims & authorities around the globe.
The documentary episodes delve into Samantha’s known cons over the years. And features interviews with all those involved, from the Police who hunted her to many of her victims over the years. Some people may say these people are not victims. I disagree. Just because they were not harmed or for the most part, not stolen from, it doesn’t mean that they are not victims. Try and place yourselves in their shoes. The emotional turmoil and distress these people must have felt cannot be underestimated. And as one case will reveal, the feeling of helplessness in the face of possible child abduction is frightening.
Some people may feel that these people MUST have known that something was up. I can understand this point. Something about some of these cases would set alarm bells ringing almost from the start. However, it is easy to sit back and say “I’d realize something wasn’t right straight away. She wouldn’t have managed to con me like that.” The problem is Samantha was so convincing, and realistic in her storytelling, that we can understand how these people fell under her spell.
Many people are spoken to throughout the series. From Police officers and journalists to the victims themselves and to medical professionals, trained in diagnosing mental illness, we are taken through the events step-by-step. The picture that builds up in our minds is one of either a seriously disturbed individual, a woman suffering from a mental condition that prevents her from knowing any better, or a clever, manipulating con woman of the highest order. Sadly, we won’t get the answer to this conundrum, for the simple reason is, nobody knows the truth.
We will probably never know the truth. The answer lies in the mind of Samantha Azzopardi. And she isn’t talking or saying. I won’t spoil where she is currently but she was asked to cooperate on the series and to put her side across. She refused. And that is a shame as we want to know why she’s done what she has and continues to do. It is frustrating. But at the same time, if she doesn’t know why, then how can she tell us or the rest of the world the reasons? It is a dilemma for which there simply isn’t an answer.
Of course, the events are dramatized with an actress portraying Samantha while the real victims tell their stories. But even then we find ourselves hooked to the screen as we watch these dramatized scenes play out. And we do actually get to see the footage of the real-life Samantha that one of her victims managed to obtain of her when she was confronted. You wouldn’t think that such a smart young woman would be conning people left, right, and center. But that’s the whole point. These people prey on us, making us believe things that we really shouldn’t. But in Samantha’s case, there is no logic to it.
By the end of the final episode, we have been through the mind of a master manipulator. But even though what we have been told and shown to be true, we find ourselves at a loss to understand it. And that is the scariest thing about the documentary series. We can’t comprehend what we’ve been told, there simply is no logic behind the actions Samantha has taken over the years. The stories she has spun for her victims. What has she gained? What truly are her motivations? Your guess is as good as mine or anyone else. But throughout the four episodes, we are hooked, going deeper down the rabbit hole that has been opened for us. And the entire series is compelling to view. We can’t help but watch it all, and that is certainly no con.
Con Girl is available to stream now, exclusively on Paramount Plus.
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Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!