news

Nino thought he was dating Olivia Newton-John. He lost $13,000 before he found out the truth.

For years, Melbourne grandmother Mary Busuttil spoke to a man from the United States army who planned to visit Australia and marry her.

She had been wooed online by Sgt Major Samuel Spencer – the stolen identity of a real solider – who convinced her to allow money from his other victims to be transferred to her so she could turn it into bitcoin and send it to him.

Busuttil didn’t know she was being scammed until cameras from A Current Affair arrived on her doorstep, following a lead from another of the scammer’s victims.

Nino Martinetti was duped out of $13,000 after a scammer posed as Olivia Newton-John. Post continues below video.

Video via Channel Nine

The 63-year-old discovered she had been duped on Monday night’s show.

“I am speaking to someone online and he told me I need to send the money. Oh my god,” Busuttil said, realising the situation she was in as she spoke.

“He told me that if he has enough of the money then he will have enough for him to come and see me and I love you and I am going to marry you.”

Busuttil had received thousands of dollars from 74-year-old Queenslander Nino Martinetti, who too was tricked into thinking he had formed a genuine relationship online.

But Martinetti’s situation was unique because the award-winning cinematographer had actually met the person he believed he was talking to while working on the 2001 film The Wilde Girls. And that person was Olivia Newton-John.

“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 A Current Affair.

“I got a nice picture with her and that’s what started this whole saga.”

a current affair olivia newton john scam
Mary Busuttil. Image: A Current Affair.
ADVERTISEMENT

Martinetti splits his time between Australia and Italy, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he found himself stranded at a friend's house on the Gold Coast.

With nothing but time on his hands, Martinetti was bored and nostalgic after looking through photos of his jobs on movies.

Martinetti's 'relationship' began after he posted a photo of himself and Newton-John to a fan page on Facebook, and shortly after received a message from a profile with the 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," Martinetti explained.

"I think it was a moment of weakness. Emotionally I was weak and that's how they got me."

They spoke multiple times a day through the Telegram app and the person Martinetti believed was Newton-John told him to keep their conversations private.

The person told Martinetti she was divorced and lonely, and that 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 story unravelled after the fake Newton-John said if he wanted to meet her, he would need to pay her management to cover the costs of her travel and security.

a current affair olivia newton john scam
Nino Martinetti. Image: A Current Affair.

"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'," 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."

They arranged to meet, and Martinetti paid a total of $13,000 into two Melbourne bank accounts. One belonged to Mary Busuttil.

ADVERTISEMENT

Obviously, the meeting with Newton-John never took place and Martinetti realised he had been scammed.

He hatched a plan to catch the scammer, so continued to speak to them and convinced them to share a Melbourne address where he could drop off more money.

He presented his findings and 600 pages of the messages exchanged to the Gold Coast Police, but they said they weren't planning to pursue a case, so he worked with A Current Affair to track down the person behind the scam.

Cameras and Martinetti visited the Melbourne address, which happened to be the home of Busuttil, who was a victim just like Martinetti, who did not know what she had become entangled 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," Martinetti said.

a current affair olivia newton john scam
The scammer posed as Sergeant Major Samuel Spencer, a real American serviceman, to dupe Mary Busuttil. Image: A Current Affair.

Martinetti's money is gone, but the scammer behind the Dame Olivia account slipped up when they accidentally uploaded their real photo to the profile.

A man called Fidelis Ilechie was listed as the owner of the Dame Olivia account.

Busuttil, who was totally unaware of the scam she was involved in, was deeply apologetic.

"I am so sorry Nino. I didn’t know," she said through tears.

Meanwhile, the real Olivia Newton-John is oblivious to the entire drama. The 71-year-old has stage four breast cancer (her first bout of the disease) and is self-isolating in California with her husband John Easterling.

"I think it's disgusting, I feel really sorry for her," Martinetti said.

Martinetti and Busuttil have both filed police reports with Queensland and Victorian police who are investigating.

Watch the full A Current Affair on 9Now.

Feature image: A Current Affair.

00:00 / ???