A fake Netflix producer and convicted criminal who put on a "very convincing" American accent lured hundreds of young revellers to hand over their names and phone numbers, sparking safety fears.
Kyle Daniel Wilkie, 26, enlisted freelance TV producer Corey Turfrey, 22, and another man to collect personal details from young people in the Brisbane CBD and Fortitude Valley for what he claimed was a documentary for the US streaming giant.
"I feel bad because I had no idea," Mr Turfrey said. "I got so many. On the first night I got 30 or 40. He wanted eight names a night. We did it Thursday, Friday and Saturday for two weeks. Over six days I would say we got 200 to 250 names. They weren't hesitant at all."
Netflix was earlier this month forced to issue a warning that a viral casting call meet-up posted to Facebook by a page calling itself "Netflix Australia — Brisbane" was actually fake, after thousands of people expressed interest.
The post said Netflix was looking for young Aussies to "show us their crazy party side" for a documentary exploring "binge drinking, 'kick ons', and all the things that come with 'having a night out'."
Wilkie, who last month pleaded guilty to 23 offences in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court related to forging prescriptions for medications, was the man behind the event. Mr Turfrey says he first met Wilkie after being contacted by the fake page.
"I had advertised on a jobs page for freelance TV producing," he said. "I got a message from that Netflix page. They said their name was Sam and asked, 'Are you interested in doing this up-and-coming thing for Brisbane?' They said their producer Kyle will be coming from California (the) next week."
Mr Turfrey later met up with Wilkie, who he believes was actually "Sam", at a pub in the city, where he produced a "traditional looking run sheet". "It was really well done," he said. "He showed us this online portal thing on his phone, it opened up and said, 'Netflix Brisbane Casting', where you enter the first name and phone number."
Wilkie even provided them with fake T-shirts that said "Netflix Production" and "Netflix Casting". "He basically said it was in pre-production so Netflix hadn't fully taken it on yet, our job was to get enough interest to send back to Netflix to get approval," he said.
But he soon began to realise something was off about Wilkie. "He was really slurry. He was literally falling over in clubs, falling downstairs," he said. "The whole time he was fully American. It was the weirdest thing."
After the Netflix event was revealed to be fake, Mr Turfrey, who also works in bars and hospitality, began getting messages from people who had recognised him. He made a post on Facebook to apologise "to anyone who has been caught up with this and want you to know I myself am just as shocked and angry as you".
He contacted Queensland Police but "they said they'll be in contact". Mr Turfrey says he still has no idea what Wilkie intended to do with the names and phone numbers — but he is sure there was never any TV documentary in the works.
"I just really don't believe his intentions were to hook up with girls," he said. "I don't think it was anything sexual or (with the intention of) contacting people directly. But then again I have no idea because he's so delusional. Is it like a social thing, something to do with meeting people? He's just really strange."
Jessica Somerville, 35, had her own bizarre encounter with Wilkie earlier this year, when he posted a live-stream to a Facebook group called The Friend Zone pretending to be an American lost in the city.
Thinking she was doing a nice thing, the retail worker took an Uber out to Fortitude Valley to pick him up, while agreeing to live-stream the whole encounter for safety. "As soon as I met him I just knew something was wrong, this is weird," she said. "When I saw him I knew he was definitely on drugs, it was very obvious from his eyes."
Ms Somerville took Wilkie back to her home where she quizzed him on where he needed to go. "I kept asking him questions. Where are you from? Where are you staying? The whole time he maintained his American accent," she said.
"He took ages to give me an address. He kept saying he was locked out of where he was staying, just making up excuses. Anyway I was like, I've got to go to bed, it's three in the morning. He gave me an address, I put it in Uber and sent him on his way."
Ms Somerville said afterwards she was "really suss" so she reported the incident to police, but they told her they "can't really do much" and that "it's not a crime to pretend to be an American when you're not".
She spent around $50 on Uber fares for Wilkie but told police, "I don't care about the money." "I care about the next person he lures," she said. "He's very convincing. I'm not that gullible and he convinced me."
Ms Somerville said it was "very scary" that he had collected so many names and phone numbers. "What is the purpose? What is the intention? That's the scary part for me," she said.
Queensland Police have been contacted for comment.
Wilkie did not respond to requests for comment.