Woman caught out in outrageous lie
A Melbourne woman accused of impersonating soap star Lincoln Lewis to torment complete strangers says she wants to "rectify the situation".
Lydia Abdelmalek is accused of an elaborate, four-year scam that involved numerous victims, including a young woman who took her own life after being led to believe Lewis was in love with her.
The ABC reported exclusively on Monday that Abdelmalek, from Melbourne's northern suburbs, was arrested in 2016 after a joint operation involving Queensland and Victorian police.
She was found guilty of stalking six people and will be sentenced in June.
But in a conversation with news.com.au on Tuesday morning, Abdelmalek tried to defend her actions saying she wanted the opportunity to clear her name.
"Would absolutely love to give my side of the story and rectify the whole situation and give an account of the whole story letting people know the truth and not just what the ABC has falsely reported," she said via Facebook Messenger.
According to the ABC report, which was based on court proceedings, Abdelmalek made contact with a young woman named Emma* who went to primary school with Lewis.
Impersonating the Home And Away star and son of rugby league legend Wally Lewis, she contacted Emma on Facebook.
Emma was fresh out of a broken relationship and found comfort in communicating with an old friend.
She soon became convinced the pair were in a relationship, despite the fact that contact was entirely online. Abdelmalek sent her revealing photos of Lewis and she sent revealing photos of herself back.
But after an old friend of Lewis told her the account she was communicating with did not belong to Lewis, she confronted her catfish.
But things became even more complicated. Abdelmalek told Emma that she was Michael Jason Smith, and then later she changed the name again. She said she was Danny Jason MacGreene - a struggling British actor - and apologised.
Instead of cutting off all contact, Emma confided in Danny and told him "I love you".
The sequence of events that followed included Emma receiving threats from other characters alleged to have been created by Abdelmalek.
She was told by strangers to "kill urself" and that nobody would support her in dealing with her depression.
The ABC reports that Emma's sister once found her crying under the covers of her blanket while on the phone to a stranger. She was told that if she hung up the phone, intimate photographs of her in lingerie would be leaked to her employer.
Emma took her own life in 2018, two years after the ordeal ended when Abdelmalek's home was raided and she was arrested.
But by that time the serial conwoman had used Lewis' identity to ensnare another victim. A flight attendant named by the ABC as Jess* met the real Lincoln Lewis on a flight years earlier and shared a photograph of the pair online.
When Abdelmalek approached her pretending to be Lewis, she fell for it. They quickly exchanged intimate online messages and even communicated via Skype.
Abdelmalek used a pixelated video of Lewis that was convincing enough to allow her to continue the ruse.
Jess was told not to reveal the pair's relationship, and even sent a fake news report that was headlined: "Is Lincoln Lewis of the market?" and quoted anonymous sources linking him to the flight attendant.
Eventually Jess discovered she was being tricked, but she too kept contact with "Michael".
News.com.au approached Victoria Police who would not comment on the case because it was before the courts.
On Facebook, Abdelmalek leads a seemingly normal life. She shares pictures with family at weddings and poses with a Westfield Santa.
This afternoon she posted the following message.
"Remember there are two sides to every story and if you are not willing to listen to both sides don't be so quick to make your judgment on what you have heard."
* Emma and Jess have had their names changed to protect their identities.
If you or somebody you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.