Money & Banking
Man falls for scammer who posed as Olivia Newton-John
A 74-year-old man has admitted he was tricked into believing he had developed a wonderful connection with Australian actress Olivia Newton-John.
Mr Martinetti is an award-winning cinematographer who had worked with the Aussie starlet on the film The Wilde Girls.
“I met Olivia and it was like working with any other actor. My job is the same, I have to make them look good, which I did,” he told the program.
“I got a nice picture with her and that’s what started this whole saga.”
He shared the picture to an Olivia Newton-John fan page and shortly after doing so, received a message from a person with the Facebook name Dame Olivia.
“I almost fainted. I had been looking at this picture and thinking about her and here she comes into my life. I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
“I think it was a moment of weakness. Emotionally I was weak and that’s how they got me.”
As the two continued to talk, the person disguised as Ms Newton-John told him she was now divorced and was lonely.
He said she also told him he was “handsome”.
“I started to feel sorry for her, I thought, ‘oh poor Olivia, she doesn’t deserve all this, she’s such a beautiful human being’,” he said.
The senior man says he was told he must keep their conversations private, and would have to communicate on the app Telegram.
The pair talked about meeting each other but the fake Dame Olivia told him that if he wanted them to meet, he would have to pay to cover the costs of her food and hotel room.
“If you want to have a coffee with Olivia it costs $2000 and if you want to go to a restaurant it costs $5000. I thought ‘this is weird but it must be the way she earns money’,” Mr Martinetti said.
“I was thinking I didn’t want to be disrespectful to her. Can you say ‘piss off’ to Olivia Newton-John? I don’t think so.”
He arranged to meet her and ended up paying a whopping $13,000 into two separate Melbourne bank accounts.
One belonged to a Mary Busuttil and the other a Thelma Fiasco.
However, the meeting never occurred and Mr Martinetti was hit with the sudden realisation that he had been scammed.
Mr Martinetti continued talking with the fake account, and eventually convinced them to give an address where he could send money to.
He gave this information and the conversations to the Gold Coast Police but claims they weren’t interested in taking on the case.
It was then Mr Martinetti partnered up with A Current Affair who tracked down the scammer by going to the address in Craigieburn, Melbourne, he had been given under the pretence of dropping off more money.
That address turned out to be the home of Ms Busuttil who was a scam victim just like Mr Martinetti and had no idea of what had been tangled up in.
“I think it is disgusting. I think that people that prey on other people based on trust and their feelings, to me they are the worst scum in the world,” Mr Martinetti said.
The scammer behind the Dame Olivia Facebook profile eventually slipped up by accidentally switching the profile picture to their real photo.
A man called Fidelis Ilechie, was listed as the owner of the account Mr Martinetti believed belonged to Olivia Newton-John.
Mr Martinetti and Ms Busuttil have filed reports with Victoria and Queensland Police who are now investigating the incidents.
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