She was a Mosgiel carer, he was a celebrity paranormal investigator from Las Vegas — it was an unlikely romance.
Kim-Marie Jackson, 46, started following Ghost Adventures host Zak Bagans on social media platform Instagram in 2018 expecting nothing.
Then a message popped into her inbox.
Nearly three years later she is $35,000 out of pocket and has the first criminal conviction to her name for receiving.
The first contact came from an unofficial Bagans page. It was an alternative account he used to contact his fans, the person claimed.
"At first we just talked normally and then he said 'you sound really nice — I'd actually like to get to know you better'," Jackson said.
The fake Bagans told her he wanted to get to know someone outside the celebrity realm, someone real.
Jackson told the Otago Daily Times she was sceptical at first and messaged the official Bagans account in an attempt to verify his identity.
While she got no reply, the man contacting her redoubled his efforts to convince her he was the bronzed, bestubbled, mysterious star in the profile photo.
"He was good," said Jackson. "He really made me believe it."
She told her suitor she was coincidentally planning a trip to see a friend in Las Vegas at the end of 2018. It was a perfect opportunity for them to meet.
But he was strangely cool on the idea.
He told Jackson he would fly her over in a private jet, then asked her to transfer the $10,000 she had saved into his account so he could keep it safe.
After much persuasion, Jackson did it.
Suddenly there were issues with tickets, plane problems. The money was gone.
Jackson cut contact with the scammer on social media but he found her email address and managed to talk her around.
In May 2019, he asked for her bank details and suddenly there was a transfer of more than $6000 from a Taupō company.
Jackson did as she was told and wired it to an overseas account.
Police informed her she had unwittingly acted as a money mule in an international fraud syndicate, and she was given a warning.
Bagans was a phoney and the game was up.
Only it was not.
At the start of 2020, Jackson was contacted again by another Bagans iteration — this time it was truly the man himself, the account's operator stressed.
Jackson said she asked dozens of questions in an attempt to prove his identity.
There was one way to settle it: a video call.
After weeks of stalling, it finally happened, and there was Zak Bagans on a screen in front of Jackson, answering her queries.
Sensationally, she later discovered, the video was a deepfake — a sophisticated technology originally used in the movie industry.
At the time, however, Jackson was convinced this Bagans was finally the real Bagans.
So when nearly $30,000 from a Māori whānau-support organisation arrived in her account, she transferred most of it overseas, as instructed.
It would be used for jet fuel to finally unite her with Bagans, she was told.
Police charged her with receiving and this week she appeared in the Dunedin District Court, where she was sentenced to two months' community detention and ordered to repay $26,692 at $60 a week.
"I've been called an idiot," she said.
"I look back and go 'what the heck was I thinking?'.
"It was like we'd broken up, it hurt, it felt like he'd cheated on me," Jackson said.
So how does she feel about Bagans, the real Bagans, now?
Jackson said she messaged his official account numerous times trying to get confirmation that it was him she had been speaking to.
Frustratingly, the author of Ghost-Hunting for Dummies, who has 830,000 followers on Instagram, never replied.
Bagans also failed to respond to questions from the ODT.
However, in November last year, he posted a warning on Facebook that scammers were using his image.
He did not private message his fans, Bagans said, nor did he request money from them.