What is catfishing, is what happened to Home and Away's Lincoln Lewis a crime and what can you do if you experience it?

15 April 2019, 13:21

A woman who impersonated Home and Away star Lincoln Lewis will be charged this June
A woman who impersonated Home and Away star Lincoln Lewis will be charged this June. Picture: Getty

A woman from Australia was recently found guilty of using Lincoln Lewis' identity to 'catfish' two women, one of which has now taken her own life

Lydia Abdelmalek has been found guilty of duping two people into thinking she was Home and Away actor Lincoln Lewis over a period of four years.

One of her victims has now taken her own life.

Abdelmalek, 29, also targeted four other unknown people in similar scams, including one of her best friends.

What happened with the Lincoln Lewis catfishing?

Abdelmalek posed as Lewis online to seduce, then torment and harass her victims.

She has been found guilty of a series of stalking and harassment charges after she bombarded her victims with a series of threatening text messages.

One of her victims, Emma*, was an old school friend - and she was even in her bridal party.

She received a Facebook friend from an account seeming to be Lewis (she had previously dated one of his friends), and they began a romantic relationship online.

Lincoln Lewis has spoken out about the catfishing incident
Lincoln Lewis has spoken out about the catfishing incident. Picture: Getty

They arranged to meet many times, but he would always cancel at the last minute - and when Emma rang the real Lincoln Lewis to ask if it was him he replied: "No. What are you talking about?"

After being confronted by Emma on the phone, the imposted claimed their real name was Michael Jason Smith and that he had set up the account as a joke with friends.

Emma and Michael eventually began talking again, and he sent her photos of British actor Danny Mac, claiming they were of him. The pair eventually started a romantic relationship.

Abdelmalek bombarded Emma with abusive messages, and Michael claimed to have received them too.

Abdelmalek also impersonated Hollyoaks actor Danny Mac
Abdelmalek also impersonated Hollyoaks actor Danny Mac. Picture: Getty

Emma later received a message from someone saying her home in Queensland would be targeted by people with guns, and another person called to say that her intimate photos would be sent to her workplace if she hung up.

Emails containing intimate photos of Emma were then sent to her family members.

She killed herself in 2017.

Another victim, Jess*, met the real Lincoln Lewis on a flight and took a photo with him. She then sent a message to the fake Facebook account, which accepted.

Abdelmalek then convinced Jess she was Lewis. She was caught out when she claimed that she was in Sydney, but the real Lewis had tweeted a photo of himself in Brisbane. Jess then contacted the real Lewis and found out she'd been deceived.

She then worked with the police to catch Abdelmalek. She will be sentenced in June.

What has Lincoln Lewis said about the catfishing incident?

Lewis released a statement on Twitter saying: “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.

Lincoln Lewis released a statement on Twitter
Lincoln Lewis released a statement on Twitter. Picture: Getty

"For everyone, but especially for those with kids, know who you or they are talking to online. be absolutely sure of it! Social media can be great but also a scary place as there are sick twisted people out there. Be safe. 

"I also want to take this time to thank the incredible police & detectives who have worked tirelessly on this case over the last 8 years. You see the worst actions in people yet never give up. You are amazing. Thank you." 

Is catfishing a crime?

Currently, catfishing itself is not illegal - but Abdelmalek is facing charges of stalking and harassment, which are both against the law.