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This Woman Posed as a Hong Kong Socialite and Stole Millions From Friends and Lovers

Her tales of wealth and opulence were just a ploy to get some dough out of you, former friends and lovers said.
translated by Jade Poa
09 December 2019, 4:13am
Collage by VICE. (L) Photo of AZURA from her now inactive Instagram account. (R) Dollar bills for illustrative purposes. Photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash

This article originally appeared on VICE Indonesia.

A long list of people are now distressed by seemingly-affluent Hong Kong-based socialite Azura Luna Mangunhardjono. The woman, who claimed to be an Indonesian princess, allegedly scammed lovers, friends, and acquaintances out of millions of dollars, the South China Morning Post reported on Dec. 1.

Little is known about Azura’s true background, as she has fabricated different life stories to different people. She told acquaintances that she was a social worker who often got called out of the country on a private jet. She claimed she had an allowance of $150,000 a month and had inherited $30 million from her father, but also told others that she came from a poor family of farmers. On social media, she flaunted private jets, luxury cars, and $80,000 handbags.

Her life story grew more extravagant with each new person she met. Jason, an ex-lover based in New York, met Azura at the Four Seasons in New York, which Azura claimed her family owned 10 percent of. She told Jason her mother was a lawyer who helped Bill Clinton get elected and that she’s lived in Paris, London, and Bali. Jason fell for her instantly.

According to Jason, Azura played the role of ultra-wealthy socialite very convincingly. Her apartment on Robinson Road in Hong Kong was the epitome of luxury, and she also claimed to have a 15-bedroom mansion in London.

Those fooled by Azura agree that her charisma and ability to appear lavishly wealthy allowed her to get away with so much for so long. “If you met her, you’d fall in love with her,” said Diane, a former friend who observed that the legitimacy of Azura’s charity work had become questionable. “She’s so charm­ing and charismatic. Otherwise, how would she do what she does?”

“Azura’s a pure professional,” Robert, 59, a former lover who allegedly lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to Azura, told SCMP. “No one is better at making you comfort­able. No joke.”

“And she could do it with such conviction,” Jason testified. “She brings characters alive. It was amazing, the stories were so deep. I would think to myself, ‘this is bullshit’. But she said she wasn’t on Google because she was so rich.”

Jason, Diane, and Robert connected with each other when they saw Azura’s name on the Ripoff Report, a private investigation website that hosts anonymous complaints. Azura’s victims then formed a WhatsApp group dedicated to investigating Azura’s claims. They found that her web of lies was more complex than they thought.

In 2017, Azura allegedly asked Robert for $150,000 to cover the cost of her father’s funeral (who, she told others, died when she was a child). She also asked him to donate $30,000 to a charity event. A few months later, Robert contacted the charity, only to find out that they had never received any funds from Robert or Azura.

On her LinkedIn account, Azura claimed to be a psychology graduate from Dartmouth College, continuing her studies at Cambridge University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in — get this — Aerospace Engineering. Diana Lawrence, a Dartmouth spokesperson, confirmed that Dartmouth never had a student named Azura Mangunhardjono.

MIT spokesperson Abby Abazorius told the SCMP that there is no record of Aura ever having attended the university. Wellfine Properties, the developer of the apartment she rents in Hong Kong, said Azura had not paid HK$460,000 ($58,754.88) in rent. An auctioneer in Hong Kong also reported Azura to police for placing a winning bid on a HK$170,000 item and failing to pay.

As more and more of Azura’s victims found each other, her list of scams became longer and longer.

A domestic helper who worked for Azura said that the socialite owes her HK76,000 ($9,707.31) in wages. In November 2018, a wealthy Beverly Hills-based socialite identified only as Sophia called police to report that the $86,000 in Hermes bags she had purchased from Azura — for charity no less — were counterfeits.

Despite amassing millions of dollars worth of unpaid goods and services worldwide, Azura has managed to stay off the Hong Kong police’s radar. At the time of writing, the cases made against Azura by her landlord and former domestic helper have not progressed.

In September 2019, Azura agreed to meet with SCMP’s Suzanne Harrison. Azura dismissed the myriad of claims made against her, then claimed to be five months pregnant with twins.

Some names have been changed.