An Aussie woman has allegedly lost $45,000 to a scammer pretending to be television star Alex O’Loughlin.
Jane, who is from Wollongong, south of Sydney, believed she was in a relationship for more than two years and would get married to the Hollywood heartthrob.
However, over more than a two-year period – from May 2021 till September 2023 – the scammer swindled Jane out of her entire life savings of $45,0000.
The catfishing scam started when Jane liked the Facebook account ‘Alex O’Loughlin Private’ but was then messaged from another account named ‘Alex O’Loughlin offical’.
‘The message just said, ‘Hi, how long have you been a fan?’ And he asked what movies did I like him in,’ Jane told 9News.
A woman from Wollongong has lost $45,000 after she was catfished by a scammer pretending to be Hawaii Five-O star Alex O’Loughlin (pictured)
The scammer convinced Jane he was the actor by sending her deepfaked video calls with O’Loughlin’s face and forged copies of his passport, driver’s licence and divorce certificate.
After months of corresponding on Facebook, the scammer advised Jane to message him on the encrypted messaging app Telegram so that they could keep their chat private and secure from hackers.
The scammer then made his first request for money, claiming Jane had to pay $3,000 if she wanted to join an exclusive O’Loughlin membership club.
Jane sent the scammer her entire tax return and was directed to pay the money through Bitcoin with email instructions from someone claiming to be his manager.
The relationship turned romantic, with the catfisher claiming he divorced his wife to marry Jane, despite her scepticism that a famous actor would pursue a woman he had never met.
‘I called him on it and said, “I’m just an ordinary woman, why would you be interested in me?” He told me he knew heaps of people who married people who weren’t famous,’ she said.
The scammer professed his love for Jane and even sent her pictures of a wedding ring, vowing they would get married.
However, during the course of their romantic exchange the scammer continued to demand money, claiming access to his bank accounts were blocked by his ex-wife.
At one point, the scammer claimed he was in a car accident with O’Loughlin’s co-star Scott Caan and needed cash to cover the hospital bills.
‘They wanted money for everything, his power even got cut off at one point,’ Jane said.
Jane explained she had $15,000 saved, which she sent to the scammer, and then would send him money every week when she was paid from work.
‘It’s broken me. I’ve had to move back in with my parents because I couldn’t afford to pay the rent.’
The scammer sent Jane deepfaked video calls with O’Loughlin’s face and forged copies of the actor’s passport, driver’s licence (pictured) and divorce certificate
After months of corresponding on Facebook, the scammer advised Jane to message him on the encrypted messaging app Telegram (pictured, exchange between Jane and the scammer)
The man who Jane believed was O’Loughlin promised to travel to Australia to meet her this year.
Jane sent the scammer thousands of dollars to pay for the journey including money for security, aviation fuel and to fix a fault on his private yet.
The Aussie woman realised something was not right when she was told the ‘actor’ had been kidnapped after his plane landed and a ransom was being demanded.
‘If someone that high-profile got kidnapped it would be all over the news, it would be everywhere,’ Jane told 9News.
She added the manager wanted an additional $5,000, which she refused to pay and even demanded the ransom note be sent to her so she could take it to the police.
After realising she had been swindled, Jane explained she was too ashamed to tell her family and friends about the scam.
Jane said she is still trying to deal with the financial and emotional fallout and cannot watch the actor on TV without bursting into tears.
Jane has reported the scammer to police in Australia and Hawaii
Jane is still responding to the catfisher’s messages and has reported the scam to police in Australia and Hawaii
It comes after another Aussie woman lost $37,000 to a scammer claiming to be Alex O’Loughlin.
The 45-year-old woman, who went by the pseudonym known as Sonia, said she was contacted in 2020 by a Twitter account with the same name as the actor.
But the account was a fake, completely unknown to O’Loughlin, with the fraudsters using clever tricks to form a relationship with the woman and convince her it was genuine.
In 2023, Australians have reported lost $27.5 million in romance scams, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch.
The commission explains the most common delivery method for romance scams is via social media.