A series of articles written by Gary Adshead (Perth) in 2005.
Life of Smoke and Mirrors
After years of dodgy deals and bogus claims Andrew Harper's world of make believe is finally closing in on him when you begin exposing a conman operating from a small Osborne Park office and suddenly receive emails from Ohio in the United States about one of his multi-million-dollar frauds, you quickly realise you've got a tiger by the tail.
Andrew J. Harper's globetrotting confidence tricks are so breathtaking in their diversity and audacity, they make his most recent $3 million play for Perth 's Mulberry on Swan function centre pale by comparison.
At the same time last year that he was organising the construction of a $530,000 racing powerboat in Vermillion, Ohio, Mr Harper was negotiating to buy a 19th century castle in Ireland and trying to stitch up a deal with British American Tobacco.
These deals were being worked on from fictitious business addresses in Sweden , Sydney and the Cayman Islands , but not one of them was ever going to materialise because the real Andrew J. Harper doesn't have a cent to his name.
The only assets the 34-year-old from Wagga Wagga in NSW has are his imagination, persuasive personality and unscrupulous ability to use people before seeking out his next target and his next grand fantasy.
He says he has a law degree.. It's a fake. He says he owns businesses in Sweden . It's a lie. He says he has a banker called Bjorn Andersson. He doesn't exist. But one thing is for sure. At 2.52pm yesterday, Mr Harper was still in Perth and he answered his mobile phone.
“Congratulations,” he said.. “I've been advised by my barrister not to talk to you.”
A Perth mother and businesswoman, who Mr Harper forged a relationship with over the internet, has been his latest victim, though The West Australian was told on Thursday she still had not accepted that. The woman was blunt before hanging up when she was telephoned by the newspaper yesterday. “I've been better, I've got no comment,” she said.
Mr Harper has been living with her since mid-April, after telling his last lover in NSW that he was flying to Adelaide for a business meeting.
Subiaco jeweller Ron Smales might be another person in a state of denial over Mr Harper. He has refused all week to discuss the status of the $3 million sale to Mr Harper of his Mulberry on Swan function centre in the Swan Valley .
Signed contracts also exist with Perth car dealers for a range of prestige vehicles, including a $170,000 Ferrari, a $40,000 Bentley, a $400,000 Maserati and an Aston Martin with a similar price tag.
Like the Ohio powerboat deal with Platinum Powerboats, these will go nowhere. “He had a contract with us for $US400,000 and he never came through,” Vickie Dyke, of Platinum Powerboats, told The West. The business still has the boat it built for him to prove it.
From the United States of America to the Eastern States of Australia , it appears Mr Harper's future options are finally being restricted.
NSW police are investigating him for credit card fraud and misrepresenting himself as a lawyer. Victorian detectives have received complaints from a number of businesses about a total of $200,000 they are owed. His family in Wagga don't want to know him and the family of the woman he is seeing in Perth want him to disappear.
There is some suggestion that he planned to do just that this weekend and that he had already convinced the Perth woman to travel with him to Europe , where he has to close another big deal. But on Tuesday when The West came face to face with Mr Harper in an Osborne Park street, he was as cool as ice and wasn't going anywhere.
Apart from being a little startled when we called out his name, the conman was on song as he rolled his eyes and shook his head as every allegation was put to him. “I understand that there are always reporters that want to make a name for themselves,” he said. “I would ask, what would anyone have to gain from making all this up?“
Perhaps it's Mr Harper who is trying to make a name for himself. Trail leads to Mulberry on Sweden
An email from Sweden has thrown Inside Cover back on the trail of shameless conman Andrew J. Harper.
With time still ticking away on that Mulberry on Swan function centre deal, another one of Harper's victims has made contact with stunning new details of his life of deception.
Anna Johansson met Harper in Alice Springs in 2002 when he worked behind the counter of an opal shop - a far cry from the $10 million-a-year job his references claim he held at that time. “He told me he was taking a year off his law studies,” she said. “That's what I was doing and so we had something in common, but now I know he never studied law.”
IC had hoped the Perth businesswoman currently being sucked in by Harper would be able to read this latest account of his relentless trickery, but we understand she flew to Monte Carlo with him at the weekend.
“I hope she doesn't lose too much to him,” Ms Johansson told IC from her office in Stockholm . “He never comes through on any of his promises. I wasn't wealthy, but he conned me and he conned everyone around us. “I'm still paying off a loan of about $20,000 to cover what I lost.” So besotted was the Swedish law student she became engaged to Harper in 2003 after he moved to Stockholm to live with her.
“I had my doubts about him, but it's hard to admit someone has completely fooled you,” she said. “It's a big blow to my ego to think I could be so gullible. “I almost signed up to a house with him, but it was the bank in that deal which made me realise what he was all about. “He had cut and pasted a forged document to appear like his bank statement.”
But Ms Johansson now realises she was just one in a line of women Harper has either fleeced or attempted to fleece, including a mother of three from Sydney . “I eventually kicked him out in May last year, but I really didn't know all the things he had done,” she said. “There is a very wealthy woman in Norway who fortunately woke up to him very early on.”
Ms Johansson was aware that Harper was trying to do deals with the Jordan Formula One Racing Team and this week the company confirmed its contact with the 34-year-old charlatan from Wagga Wagga in NSW.
“He was likely using the documentation to con his way into the Formula One paddock,” Jordan director Mike Jones told IC. “Thanks very much for bringing this to my attention.” Information has also emerged that Harper was in Perth some years ago operating from a Guildford office and making fraudulent orders for Hummer 4WD vehicles. “There was a private airline in France he went through the motions of buying,” Ms Johansson said. “They were thrilled and kept flying from Sweden to sell the concept to him. But it didn't happen.”
Like all the companies and anyone else conned by Harper, Ms Johansson said he has to be stopped. “He does what he does with pre-planning and his eyes wide open,” she said. “He must be held responsible.”
Harper's bizarre deal goes belly up
Real estate firm Remax has confirmed that Andrew J. Harper's bogus $3 million deal to buy function centre Mulberry on Swan has officially gone belly up. “We've closed the file on it,” Remax boss John Percudani told Inside Cover. “The deal is at an end as far as the current contract goes.”
But Subiaco jeweller and function centre owner Ron Smales still was pursuing the deal on Wednesday evening and sent two representatives to a business run by Harper's lover in Osborne Park .
IC won't name her or her firm because she has a young child and is just the latest innocent victim of Harper's ruthless life of deceit.
Right now, the conman and the woman are in Monte Carlo at her expense while friends, family and business colleagues fight a losing battle to persuade her she's been hoodwinked by Harper's charm. As incredible as it sounds, Harper has managed to convince her that the transfer of all his millions of dollars from Europe to Australia has been stalled by the sudden death of his “Swedish banker”, Bjorn Andersson, in a car crash.
It doesn't appear Mr Smales is interested in any more excuses. His representatives were asking for a $1 million cheque to be made out to his company when they turned up unannounced at the woman's office. IC understands anxious staff members had to explain they weren't in a position to write out a cheque for such a large sum of money. No one at the office would discuss the latest developments in the Mulberry on Swan debacle and Mr Smales still was not returning IC's telephone calls yesterday.
Because of Harper's contract to buy the function centre, with the intention of turning into a private home, Mr Smales has wound down the business, laid off 25 staff and put a stop on bookings after July 2. “Whether another contract to buy comes along remains to be seen,” Mr Percudani said. “There were certain obligations that had to be met in the previous contract which were not met and so I closed the file.”
The Mulberry deal will prove to be one of many around Perth that involve Harper and which will come crashing down. With his fake documents to back up his make-believe story of being a high-powered lawyer earning up to $10 million a year through major corporate deals, Harper has signed for a Ferrari, Bentley, Maserati and Aston Martin with Perth car dealers.
There's also a luxury boat deal which already has sunk.
What remains unknown is the number of deals Harper has done or convinced his lover to do using the name of her legitimate business in Osborne Park . Sources have told IC that some people in her company are extremely concerned about its future when Harper's chickens come home to roost.
Not even the series of damning stories published in The West Australian about Harper's previous victims, fabricated law degree, unpaid debts and bogus references has managed to sway their boss. As of yesterday, she was standing by her man believing The West Australian was being sued for writing a pack of lies.
But there hasn't been a whisper from any lawyer despite days of calling Harper a conman, fraudster, trickster, liar and charlatan. Maybe IC should throw low-life scum into the mix and see what happens.
That was the view of Harper expressed by a woman in Sweden, who not only lost about $20,000 to his fraudulent ways, but two years of her life spent being his girlfriend and fiancee.
“The trick is for people who have suspicions about him to stop giving him the benefit of the doubt,” Anna Johansson said. The most serious accusation against him is that he pretended to be a lawyer in property deals in NSW. Police are waiting to speak to him.
But if Harper is true to form, then things will unfold in the following way:
After their stay in Monte Carlo , he will tell his lover that he needs to travel to Sweden to sort out his up-in-the-air financial affairs in the wake of his non-existent banker's non-existent death. She will fly home to Perth and will never see Harper again because he knows the only thing waiting here for him is a world of trouble. With the help of close friends and family, she hopefully will pick up the pieces and move on after Harper's heartless intrusion in her life.
Harper dream team is pure fiction
Even after several weeks of peeling back the layers of conman Andrew J. Harper's fraudulent life, the latest revelations are stunning. Just in case Harper did arrive back in Perth last night as scheduled, Inside Cover wanted to assure him that he and his Mulberry on Swan property deal deception remained firmly in the column's sights.
We can now reveal exactly how he convinced his targets of his wealth and business power by manufacturing from scratch six corporations that appeared to be operating with their own company directors, accountants and lawyers.
Harper Aviation Finance, Camport Hotel Group, Synchronicity Sports Marketing, Harper Venture Capital, Vineyard Developments, A.J. Harper Property and Evergreen Energy came under the umbrella of A.J. Harper Holdings.
“Today the group has offices and locations spread throughout Australia , USA and Northern Europe ,” his fabricated company overview reads. “Once the divisional management and the CEO agree on a project it is taken on with the ferocity that has placed the group in the strong position it enjoys today.” Harper didn't just create the names of the executives on his management teams, he uses photographs of people to give them legitimacy.
“Andrew Campbell B.Sc. (Hons) LL.B was previously Senior Vice President Finance for Cadbury Schweppes,” one profile reads. Then there's his asset manager Brian Sullivan, his chief financial officer, David Casey and company director Ken Wallace. IC found plenty of people around the world with these names, but none of them work for Harper and Harper's companies exist only in his imagination.
The $320 million value given for one company alone also is fiction. Where photographs of the people in these latest documents originated is anyone's guess, but IC doubts the men would be too pleased to discover their images were being used by a conman. Other documents show the fantasy trail he has blazed in recent times around the world.
From the concierge at the Le Meridien Hotel in Beverly Hills was a note to Harper regarding his inquiries in September last year about buying a Rolex watch. “It appears that Geary's is the only authorised Rolex dealership in Beverly Hills ,” the concierge wrote.
There's a contract for $1.3 million drawn up by a Malibu car dealer in relation to Harper's plans to buy brand new Mercedes-Benz cars in March last year. “$50,000 deposit - hold for 48 hours,” reads the document.
Still in America and evidence of Harper's approach to a Kentucky-based boat dealer. “We would like to help you in your request to purchase a 46 Skater,” wrote Lake Cumberland Marine's Randy Hartmann in a fascimile. A Skater is a powerboat worth about $US800,000 ($1.03 million) new.
None of this helps Mulberry on Swan function centre owner Ron Smales, who will be trying to resurrect the Swan Valley business while wishing he'd never heard Harper's name.
Evergreen Energy Pty Ltd
A.J. Harper Property Holdings Ltd
Synchronicity Sports Marketing Ltd
Harper Venture Capital Inc
Vineyard Developments Pty Ltd
Harper Aviation Finance Ltd
Camport Hotel Group Ltd
Harper's con still weaves its magic
Family, friends and work colleagues of the Perth businesswoman being conned by habitual liar Andrew J. Harper are becoming extremely worried after learning that the fraudster might still be in WA. The woman, who Inside Cover will call Susan, has returned from an apparent week-long holiday in Europe and IC understands that Harper is still in her life.
Nothing written by this column outlining Harper's make-believe existence has managed to convince her that the 34-year-old has been conning her ever since January when they met via an internet dating website.
Even after the $3 million Mulberry on Swan function centre deal crashed, a number of contracts for luxury cars went nowhere and Harper's own family made efforts to warn her, Susan still thinks the new man in her life is a multi-millionaire lawyer wanting to settle down in Perth.
As a last resort, IC will reveal damaging new emails Harper wrote to his last female victim in late April and some details about his life Susan may not know. He is originally from Wagga Wagga in NSW and has several brothers and sisters. He has been distant from his family for many years after he turned his relentless ability to deceive on them.
In 1995, he was married to a Wagga woman called Simone and they had a baby boy in 1998. It's believed that Harper's father ran out of patience when he found some money missing. But perhaps a series of emails written by Harper to his previous female victim at the same time that he was in Perth with Susan might force the penny to drop.
Harper supposedly had left Sydney to attend a wind farming business meeting in Adelaide on April 8. These emails prove how he kept up the charade while all the time he was, in fact, with Susan.
April 15, 2005: “Heads down, bums up here. Getting through stuff. I am going out to the farm now at Elliston to inspect the damaged grid. Love you, Andrew.”
April 18, 2005: “Will be able to call soon. Big stuff happening here. It's all very heavy. Miss you, love AH.”
April 21, 2005: “I am on my way home. Can't wait to see you. I will call when I know the flights. Miss ya, Andrew.”
The truth is that Harper had arrived in Perth by April 11 and wasted no time in beginning his new bogus life with his newest victim, Susan. He took her to a luxury car dealer to order a $180,000 Ferrari and the date on the contract proves it. IC has amassed a pile of documents to back up everything the column has written and Susan, you're welcome to read them.
Harper blows smoke to tobacco giant
The saga that has given Inside Cover more mileage than a marathon runner's shoes just won't go away.
Not that tree at Parliament House!
IC is referring to the saga of Andrew J. Harper - the only “multi-millionaire lawyer” this columnist has been able to call a low-life conman more than a dozen times and get away with it.
Almost six weeks after sending an email to corporate giant British American Tobacco about one of Mr Harper's brazen global plays, IC has finally received a reply.
Documents once belonging to Mr Harper and obtained by IC suggested he was trying to get a foot in the door of Formula One racing, or, at least get his hands on official material to make it seem he was involved in the sport. BAT spokesman David Betteridge has confirmed both deductions are correct.
“Andrew Harper (Harper Holdings) registered an interest when we were looking for investors in British American Racing - the Formula One team in which we held a 90 per cent stake,” he said. “He was one of a number of people/ organisations expressing interest.
“He signed a confidentiality agreement last March and we sent him background information. These documents are confidential (business plan and the like).
“We've not met him nor had any other communications with him.” Neither has IC for several weeks, but it's understood he is still in Perth.
There has been speculation that he and the woman he continues to fool are thinking of moving to either New Zealand or Malibu in the United States where Mr Harper has apparently been working up some new business venture. He's probably convinced some poor unsuspecting soul he's a champion Aussie surfer wanting to set up a chain of bikinis shops.
Legal eagle line is another one for the birds, Sharon
A woman called Sharon Tulp is about to get very angry with Inside Cover.
She's the genuinely nice person being duped by conman Andrew J. Harper and who now believes the column is in the throes of being sued by her man.
Thing is, Ms Tulp, who runs a legitimate real estate settlement agency, is convinced that IC is about to be taken to task in the courts by none other than Stuart Littlemore QC - the former acerbic host of the television program Media Watch.
Harper has managed to fool her into thinking the high-profile Sydney lawyer, with a reputation for ripping journalists apart, is acting on his behalf and has issued The West Australian with a writ.
But it's all another lie and Mr Littlemore was in no doubt about that when he sent an email to IC on Friday. “I can confirm that I have not accepted any brief to act for Mr Harper,” the lawyer said.
An assistant of Mr Littlemore's responded in a similar fashion to an earlier email. “Mr Littlemore QC tells me he knows nothing of this matter,” the woman wrote.
Enough readers keep asking for updates on the Harper saga to justify a report on this latest development and some other news that's come to hand about the Eastern States conman who won't go away.
IC has evidence that a mysterious character named “Johnny Walker” is supposedly supplying information to Harper to damage The West. This Johnny Walker uses the email address of email@example.com and claims to know the internal workings of the newspaper.
Ms Tulp believes his information is gold. IC is certain he's another of Harper's fictional characters used by him to stall for time. It would all be so pathetic if not for the people employed by Ms Tulp, who fear for their futures as long as Harper remains in their boss's life.
Short of continuing to write it as it is, there's nothing more IC can do.
2009 - Harping on
Cast your mind back to Inside Cover circa 2005 and the name Andrew J. Harper should ring a bell.
He was the powerboat-driving, Ferrari- owning, skirt-chasing global billionaire who landed in Perth, caused a sensation and vanished.
Well, he’s popped up on “the grid” again. Not much about him has changed. He’s still a complete fraud and conman, only this time Queensland has been his hunting ground.
His female victims have been emailing an old IC snout with tales of woe at horrible Harper’s hands.
“You don’t know me,” wrote one broken heart in Brisbane . “We have an unfortunate connection in the conman Andrew Harper.”
IC spent hours unravelling Harper’s lies and pulling apart his doctored documents, but sadly the law still hasn’t caught up with him and he is continuing to prey on women and companies in Australia and the US.
“A very good friend of mine and her seven-year-old son were conned by Andrew in the US ,” another Harper hater revealed.
“He used the same stories about having millions tied up because his banker passed away. He conned them out of $25,000.”
Harper heralds from country NSW and since his dishonesty was exposed, his stunned family has shut the door on him. But a new fabricated document sent to IC proves Harper is still at it and on a grander scale. It has the logo of PricewaterhouseCoopers on the top and is what Harper used to convince people he’s worth a cool $1.6 billion. How could anyone be sucked in by him?
He picks his vulnerable targets carefully using dating websites and other means and then pounces with all the male magnetism he can muster. Before long, the woman, her finances and her family become easy pickings.
Having come face to face with Harper, IC knows how well he lies. Perhaps PwC could do the world a favour and file a fraud complaint against him. We’ll supply the paperwork.