Spain police have arrested a woman they accuse of faking her own kidnapping and using the ransom for bingo buy-ins.
According to Mossos d’Esquadra, the police force serving Spain’s semi-autonomous Catalonia region, the unnamed 47-year-old woman concocted the plan while her husband was being treated in a local hospital.
The unfortunate man called police in a panic on October 6 after he received messages on his mobile phone, purportedly from his wife’s abductors. He was told he would have to pay a €6,000 ($7,000) ransom to secure the woman’s freedom.
The case was assigned to Mossos d’Esquadra’s elite kidnap and extortion unit. Fearing his wife was in mortal danger, the man was advised to pay a portion of the ransom, in line with instructions in the messages.
‘Victim’ Caught on Camera
When some of the ransom was later withdrawn from a bank in Badalona, near Barcelona, agents sprang into action, obtaining footage from the security camera. The video showed the purported abductee, apparently safe and well, thumbing the cash.
The unit then traced her to a nearby casino. In security video from the venue released this week by Mossos d’Esquadra, she is seen washing her hands with sanitizer at the entrance. That’s before marching past the slot machines to the bingo hall.
She was arrested that evening, mid-bingo game, and charged with extortion and suspicion of reporting a fake crime. She has since been released on bail, pending an ongoing criminal investigation.
According to Mossos d’Esquadra, fake kidnappings are surprisingly common. The department says it deals with several such cases every year. It reminded the Spanish public that “simulating crimes or filing false allegations are actions classified by the Penal Code, and the perpetrators will be investigated or arrested.”
Fake Kidnap More Common Than You Think
They also happen closer to home. In 2019, a New York State man was arrested for elaborately staging his own kidnapping to avoid paying out $50,000 in Super Bowl bets.
Robert Brandel, 60, organized a Super Bowl squares pool online. But he made up some of the names in a ploy to keep most of the money for himself. However, the scam backfired.
Police found him tied up and gaffer-taped in his truck. Brandel claimed he had been abducted and robbed of the money. But officers were suspicious because he was clean shaven, despite claiming he was into the third day of his abduction when they found him.
The most famous fake kidnapping was staged by Brazilian soccer player Somália, who claimed he had been abducted at gunpoint before being robbed of money and jewelry. Security video later revealed this was a lie. He had simply been late for training and needed an excuse.
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