Two victims of an online scammer have revealed how they were left heartbroken by a love triangle in which one man posed as an army major and Olivia Newtown John.
For years Mary Busuttil, 63, believed she had been speaking with a man from the US Army who promised he would come to Australia and marry her.
Not only did she send him her own money but she was also unknowingly helping him scam other innocent people.
It wasn’t until Ms Busuttil was tracked down by Nine’s A Current Affair did she realise what she had been tangled in.
The scammer posed as a man called Sergeant Major Samuel Spencer when speaking to Ms Busuttil and convinced her to allow money from one of his other victims, Nino Martinetti, to be transferred to her so she could turn it into bitcoin and send it to him.
The heartbreaking moment the 63-year-old realised she had been scammed was caught on camera when she was asked by ACA producer Luke Mortimer why she accepted the transferred money.
“I am speaking to someone online and he told me I need to send the money. Oh my god,” Ms Busuttil said.
“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.”
Tara Sparrow, who Ms Busuttil works for as a nanny, told the program that she tried to warn her about these types of scams.
“Mary probably is the most naive person I have ever met,” Ms Sparrow said.
“I have tried to educate her about the online scammers but she is just desperate for love and companionship I think.”
Ms Busuttil said she transferred thousands of dollars of her own money and the money she was sent from Mr Martinetti into bitcoin for her scammer.
“I put $4000, $2000, $1000. You can put as much as you like,” she said.
“I am so sorry Nino. I didn’t know.”
Like Ms Busuttil, 74-year-old Mr Martinetti was tricked into believing he had formed a genuine connection with someone online.
However, his situation was slightly different because the woman he thought he was talking to was Olivia Newton-John.
Mr Martinetti is an award-winning cinematographer and worked with Ms Newton-John on a film called 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 recently posted the picture to an Olivia Newton-John fan page and shortly after doing so he 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 Mr Martinetti believed was 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 scammers told the 74-year-old he had to keep their conversations private and that they had to communicate on an app called Telegram.
Eventually he was told by the fake Dame Olivia that if he wanted to meet with her he had to pay her management in order 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 total of $13,000 into two separate Melbourne bank accounts, one belonging to a Mary Busuttil and the other a Thelma Fiasco.
Of course the meeting never occurred and Mr Martinetti quickly realised that he had been scammed.
But instead of cutting off contact, he continued to talk to the scammer and convinced them to send him an address in Melbourne where he could drop off more money.
He presented this information and the conversations to the Gold Coast Police but claims they weren’t interested in pursuing the case.
A Current Affair agreed to help Mr Martinetti track 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 turned out to be 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, a common name in Nigeria, was listed as the owner of the account Mr Martinetti believed belonged to Olivia Newton-John.
Both Mr Martinetti and Ms Busuttil have filed reports with Victoria and Queensland Police who are now investigating.