A woman killed herself after a catfisher tricked her into thinking she was in a romance with former Home and Away heartthrob Lincoln Lewis.
A complete stranger posed as the Australian star and pretended the pair were in an online relationship - before tormenting the victim, named only as 'Emma', for years using a cast of fake internet personas.
Even after she realised she was not dating the star, Emma was reportedly lured into a deeper web of deceit and despair as she was tricked into falling for another fake identity.
Emma, from Melbourne, Australia, was then bombarded with threatening messages from anonymous accounts.
Lydia Abdelmalek, from Melbourne, Australia, was found guilty of stalking after she created fake accounts of celebrities and used them to lure Emma and another woman into fake online relationships in her inexplicable attempts to destroying the two strangers' lives, ABC reported.
The disturbing story of online trickery was outlined by the Australian broadcaster after a Melbourne court heart how Abdelmak, 29, went to extraordinary lengths to torment the women.
She also reportedly bombarded her victims with abusive messages from anonymous phone numbers in her twisted attempts to control them in a sinister plot that ended in tragedy for one woman.
Emma had gone to primary school with 31-year-old Lewis, making her more likely to believe the Facebook friend request she one day received that appeared to be from the star.
In an in-depth investigation into Abdelmalek's twisted web of abuse the ABC charts how an eventually suspicious Emma, called the star in 2011, to ask him whether they really had been dating.
"No," Lincoln reportedly replied to her. "What are you talking about?"
She filled him in on her ordeal during a heartbreaking phonecall.
She reportedly outlined how she had received a friend request on Facebook from a profile she believed to have been his - as the pair were childhood friends.
For the months that followed, she was in constant contact with the fake Lincoln, with the connection quickly turning romantic.
It has been reported how Emma was sucked into the elaborate catfishing scam - using the term popularised by the hit MTV reality show Catfish , which exposes the online romance cons.
Emma's new Facebook friend 'Lincoln' shared realistic detail of the pair's old school, and his acting career - and even sounded like him.
He sent her raunchy pictures- and she reportedly reciprocated.
But the flight attendant's suspicions grew as 'Lincoln' repeatedly dodged her requests to meet face-to-face, and she was able to get the actor's real phone number from an old friend.
After the shocked TV star confirmed he had not been in a romantic online relationship with his old friend, the pair spoke again only once, wrote the ABC.
The star reportedly told the Heidelberg Magistrates' Court in Australia he eventually ceased contact with Emma because he felt powerless to stop the catfish, and was worried about his public image and his own family's safety.
But in the interim, the star was rattled by the scale of attempts to impersonate him.
The ABC reported how someone approached the celebrity during a holiday in Indonesian tourism hotspot Bali, apparently thinking they were online friends.
In a series of 2013 tweets, the actor warned "weird" people had been making social media profiles impersonating him, as he warned fans not to communicate with accounts in his name online.
He even deleted his Facebook profile because the problem was "causing a lot of drama," he wrote.
Emma also demanded video footage of the person she was talking to online - and they complied with "dark" footage of "Lincoln" where he could not clearly be seen.
She filmed the interaction and passed it to police along with a statement, but they reportedly took it no further.
Eventually she managed to get a name from her tormentor: "Michael Jason Smith," who claimed the fake Lincoln Facebook page was set up as a joke between friends.
But when she told the profile she had gone to police, she began receiving a slew of messages, including from some claiming to from her ex-boyfriend - and with the pictures to prove it, the ABC reported.
"Michael" told her he was really British Hollyoaks star "Danny Mac" - only using the online fake identity "Michael Jason Smith" due to being "stalked" himself, and even sending her pictures of the actor.
She began to develop feelings for her correspondent, who played on her trust by claiming he, too, was a victim of online abuse.
Emma soon found herself bombarded with nasty messages and threats from anonymous sources, the ABC reported.
The "Michael" deepened her trust in the ruse by showing her he was receiving them too and fabricating messages from other celebrities.
This led to an elaborate kidnapping hoax where Emma, by then sucked into believing "Michael" to be her online boyfriend, was sent a series of messages from a "police officer" showing him seemingly bound and gagged.
When she finally got hold of him he claimed he had been on holiday, and she believed the pair of them had been duped by their common "tormentors."
But the harrassment and fake threats against her family from the anonymous accounts continued.
Her sister would later reportedly tell a court of finding Emma under her bedsheets on her phone crying as she was kept hostage for by hours by an anonymous caller, who was threatening to send intimate photos to her employer if she hung up.
Her family was reportedly sent photos of Emma in lingerie and in suggestive poses, as she fell into a spiral of despair.
Emma took her own life in 2018, the ABC reported.
Abdemalek's web of lies was finally exposed when another victim managed to ensnare her in a trap with the help of the Queensland Police, who were able to use a bank transaction to link her to an online fake identity.
The court was told the Melbourne woman knew neither of her victims, made no significant money from the scams, and yet had dedicated four years of her life to tormenting the women.
She was found guilyty of stalking six people, the ABC reported.
The real Lincoln Lewis himself posted on Twitter shortly after the harrowing case was revealed by the Australian broadcaster - with warnings for others at risk of being fooled by sinister online fakes.
"Having your number, address, personal details illegally obtained & photos doctored was scary.
"Having them used to catfish people is sickening.
"But nothing can give back or make right what this sick person did and took away from the victims," he wrote.
He thanked the detectives on the case, and warned social media users - and especially parents - to know who they or their kids are talking to online.
"Social media can be great but also a scary place as there are sick twisted people out there," he added. "Be safe."
He said police had worked "tirelessly" on the case for eight years.
"You see the worst actions in people yet never give up. You are amazing. Thank you."
Abdelmalek will reportedly be sentencing in June.
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