He was a divorced, middle-aged doctor. She was a glamorous, blonde Chinese-Australian. They met through a dating agency on the Queensland Gold Coast and fell for each other, or so he thought. Then the requests for money started.
Lily Bolivique told Neil Wallman she needed A$200,000 (£130,000) to release funds tied up in Croatia.
Dr Wallman, 55, a gynaecologist and obstetrician, sought advice from the agency, Hearts United. Paul Mladenis, who owns and runs the agency, assured him Ms Bolivique was trustworthy. Dr Wallman sent her the money via Hearts United's bank account.
The couple spent a weekend together on the Gold Coast in 2007. Mr Mladenis told the doctor – who had paid A$200,000 to sign up with the agency for three years – that it went swimmingly. "Mate, things are going well for you and Lily," he told him, offering him a A$100,000 "special VIP package" to cover their wedding and honeymoon.
After that, "events spiralled", according to the New South Wales Supreme Court. There were further dates, and more demands for cash. Ms Bolivique and Mr Mladenis divested the doctor of more than A$2m over 18 months.
Mr Mladenis and his wife, Snezanna, went on a spending spree. There was a Porsche for him and a Lamborghini for her. They bought a BMW and a Lexus. They spent $526,000 on cars, and $633,000 on a property in Mermaid Beach, a Gold Coast neighbourhood.
Then Ms Bolivique vanished. She had "done a runner" to Croatia, Mr Mladenis told Dr Wallman, stealing not only the doctor's money but some of his, too. The only way to recover it, he said, was for Mr Mladenis to pursue her and start legal proceedings. Dr Wallman would have to bankroll the travel and lawyers' bills, though. Late last year, Mr Mladenis flew to Croatia to "meet with lawyers" and track down Ms Bolivique, with, he said, the help of some motorcycle gang thugs.
When she fled to Manila, Mr Mladenis followed her, all the while texting Dr Wallman. "Mate, I'm chasing down that bitch... with some heavys [sic]," he informed him. Then it was: "Neil can u transfer 4700"... "Can u lend me 6500"... "Can u send me 9k pls".
By March this year, Dr Wallman had paid out A$3.6m, and was bankrupt.
Justice Michael Pembroke, who ordered that the money be repaid to Dr Wallman's bankruptcy trustee, observed that the case was "so fantastic as to strain credulity".
The reality, he said, was Dr Wallman was the agency's sole client, and the love affair with Ms Bolivique was concocted to swindle a lonely, gullible man.
None of the 20 payments which Dr Wallman made to Ms Bolivique reached "the mysterious Lily", the judge said. She did not give evidence, and her real identity remains unclear. Hearts United, meanwhile, is still online.Reuse content