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"You feel powerless." Lincoln Lewis on finding out a catfish used his image to ruin women's lives.

When Lydia Abdelmalek was told she’d be spending two years and eight months in prison, she clutched a photo close to her chest.

The photo was of Australian actor Lincoln Lewis, who she’d been impersonating for years.

She’d convinced numerous women Lewis was in love with them, one of those women was so distraught by the scam she ended her own life.

Mamamia’s daily news podcast The Quicky speaks to the ABC journalist who broke the story. Post continues after audio.

Lewis first found out about the catfish using his image when a woman (who can’t be named) who he went to primary school with, got in contact in 2011.

“Linc, I’ve thought for the last couple of months that you and I have been dating,” he recounted in court proceedings, the video of which has been obtained by A Current Affair. 

“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?’” he told court.

“And then she kept saying to me, ‘Linc, what do I do?’ Many times.”

The woman, a Virgin flight attendant, told Lewis she was scared because this person now knew everything about her.

The catfish also knew Lewis’ family home address and his Virgin Velocity Frequent flyer number.

He panicked and called his parents asking them to beef up security at their home.

“This person had said to her that because they hadn’t seen each other in person, could she send photos and videos of herself,” Lewis told court.

Abdelmalek then sent those intimate photos to her victim’s family and threatened to send them to her employer.

lydia abdelmalek lincoln lewis
Lydia Abdelmalek spent at least four years catfishing people via fake profiles. Image: Facebook.
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The victim was sent hundreds of messages every week from different numbers that said things like; "We're going to f*** your life up so badly you'll be begging for mercy and no one will be able to save you," and "How is your dad? That *** is going to get a nasty surprise."

After one message threatening to go "big guns blazing" on her parents, the victim's sister told the court she got a phone call and her sister was uncontrollably sobbing.

She drove to her parent's home straight away, but they were fine.

Abdelmalek had been sending the threats from the comfort of her own home, and they continued relentlessly.

Her victim was eventually diagnosed with PTSD and in 2018 she took her own life.

"She went from being this vivacious, bubbly, larger-than-life character who loved everything and loved her job, to somebody who became severely anxious, depressed and traumatised," the victim's sister said in court.

The flight attendant wasn't the only one fooled into thinking Lewis was in love with them, and it was *Emma who was eventually the catfish's downfall.

After finding out she wasn't in fact dating Lewis like she thought she was, she played along convincing Abdelmalek to send money so police could track the payment back to her.

“(It made me feel) twice as panicked as before. There was nothing I could do about it and I felt pretty powerless,” Lewis told the court about how he felt when Emma got in touch with him.

“It kills your vibe, it ruins your day. It makes you feel powerless and it makes you feel s**t,” and emotional Lewis can be heard revealing in the videotape.

“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.”

Despite being found guilty of six counts of stalking, Adbelmalek was bailed after her sentencing as her lawyer plans to appeal the decision.

*name changed.

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