Legal

Fri, 7 Jun, 2019Joanita Wibowo

Woman sentenced to jail after impersonating Home and Away star in online romance scam

Woman sentenced to jail after impersonating Home and Away star in online romance scam

A Melbourne woman who has impersonated Australian actor Lincoln Lewis to ensnare women online has been sentenced to two years and eight months in jail after one of her victims committed suicide.

29-year-old Lydia Abdelmalek received the sentence after being found guilty of six stalking charges.

She posed as multiple different people, including the Home and Away star, to strike up online relationships with the victims before taunting them with threats.

In a court recording obtained by A Current Affair, Lincoln shared how “powerless” the catfishing made him feel.

“It just takes away your happiness because now I’ve got this constant thought in my mind that something’s happening that I’m powerless to stop or even find out,” the son of former rugby league legend Wally Lewis said.

In one case, Abdelmalek used Lincoln's profile to trick his primary school friend, who is identified as Emma, into a fake romance.

Emma managed to speak to the real Lincoln in 2011 in a phone call. 

“She said, ‘Linc, I’ve thought for the last couple of months that you and I have been dating,'” said Lincoln.

“My first reaction is, how could you think that? How could you think that we’re dating when we haven’t seen each other in years? And then she kept saying to me, ‘Linc, what do I do?’ many times.”

He said Emma told him she was scared because Abdelmalek knew “everything” about her and a lot about Lincoln, including his family’s home address in Brisbane and his Virgin Velocity Frequent Flyer number.

Emma later received threats, prank calls and messages such as “wen r u going 2 kill urself?”.

After dealing with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder from the continued abuse, Emma took her own life in 2018, two years after the ordeal began.

“I was angry that a faceless coward could be so inhumane to stoop so low to do this to an innocent person,” read Emma’s 2016 victim impact statement.

“Words alone do not describe how this traumatic episode has affected me.”

Another victim, identified as Jess, told the court that she suffers from “debilitating panic attacks, depression and anxiety” after receiving similar harassment from Abdelmalek.

“I’m now forever entangled in your sick story of abuse and manipulation … You’ve ruined my life.”

Abdelmalek was granted bail, and her defence indicated that she would appeal the guilty conviction.

If you are experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide, you can call Lifeline 131 114 or beyondblue 1300 224 636 or visit lifeline.org.au or beyondblue.org.au.