‘He preys on vulnerable women’: South Island woman warns others of local con artist using alias

WatchImagine being in a relationship with someone for nearly a decade only to find out, that person wasn't who you thought they were. Kori Sidaway has the story.

Imagine being in a relationship with someone for nearly a decade, only to find out that person wasn’t who you thought they were.

That’s what happened to Maria — CHEK News is protecting her real identity for her safety — who is now warning others about a man she says is an “abusive con artist.”

“He preys on certain women. Vulnerable women. He goes for women who need to be rescued. I fell for it,” she said.

Maria recently found out her lover of almost 10 years was a liar.

“This guy that I thought I knew as Giovanni Zizzo, it turns out it’s not his name,” said Maria. “He said he was 32, and he’s actually 42.”

Maria says Zizzo said he was a youth outreach worker, who started off as aggressive and persistent, then quickly became controlling and emotionally and physically abusive, even threatening to pimp her out if she didn’t do what he said.

“He told me I belong to him. Mind, body and soul. I’m his,” Maria told CHEK News.

She only found out she’d been conned for nearly a decade when she went to police to report him for assault and theft.

“They told me his real name is Kyle,” said Maria. “And I was in complete shock.”

Maria says police told her Zizzo’s real name was actually Kyle Balonjan. Recent court records confirm Giovanni Zizzo is an alias Balonjan uses.

Surprising her even further, Maria found out Balonjan is facing one charge of theft and one charge of assault from October 2021.

“It’s just so horrible to think you know somebody and you just don’t know them at all,” said Maria.

Since going to police, Maria says she’s been living in fear, getting a new cell phone number, even moving off the Island to protect herself.

“I can’t live a life hiding,” said Maria. “I pretty much have to have someone with me, wherever I go. I’ve never been so scared of somebody in my whole life.”

She’s speaking out because she thinks Zizzo aka Balonjan, may have more victims.

“Because I think there are more women out there. And I think they’re scared,” said Maria. “I think they need to come forward and tell their story about him.”

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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