'Catch Me if You Can,' Australian Style

Jody Harris was bold and brazen, but ultimately undone by love
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2022 1:35 PM CDT
Infamous Aussie Conwoman Had a Thing for Cops
   (Getty - Vyacheslav Dumchev)

Alysha Searle, “an underslept, overcaffeinated barista,” was pulled over during her commute on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway in 2006. The female officer berated Searle for running a red light and demanded to see her license. A moment later, the officer got an emergency call and told Searle to get lost. “It wasn’t until Searle made it home that she realized the detective still had her license," writes Sandy Milne at Truly Adventurous. The next day, her savings account was short $3,000. Searle was one of dozens of women and men victimized by Jody Harris, “Australia’s craftiest conwoman,” as detailed in Milne's account.

In a crime spree that drew obvious comparisons to Frank Abagnale of Catch Me if You Can fame, Harris specialized in stealing identities. She posed alternately as a cop, flight attendant, lawyer, and “seafood entrepreneur.” Joining her for a casual coffee could cost victims tens of thousands of dollars. Methodical at times, the lifelong fraudster and pickpocket also “tended to fly by the seat of her pants … and rely on her wits, charm, and boldness.” Money came easy for her, but what she liked most was duping the police, until she met Andrew Twining, a “goofy constable.” He started out as just another mark, but they fell in love. In the end, Twining was the only one who ever conned Harris; although heartbroken, he arranged the sting that brought her down. Read more about Harris’s exploits here. (More con artist stories.)

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