California Woman Arrested For Faking Her Own Kidnapping
A California woman has been charged with faking her own kidnapping and fraudulently receiving $30,000 in victim assistance funds, according to a Thursday press release from the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Sherri Papini was arrested on charges of making false statements to a federal law enforcement officer and engaging in mail fraud, according to the DOJ release. Papini was reported missing on Nov. 2, 2016, and “found” on Nov. 24, 2016. She claimed that she had been kidnapped by Hispanic women and was branded on her shoulder. She also claimed her kidnappers held her at gunpoint.
Papini worked with an FBI sketch artist to help identify her supposed kidnappers. She also requested money from the California Victim Compensation Board. She received 35 payments totaling over $30,000, according to the release.
An investigation into Papini’s story found that she had stayed with a former boyfriend while she was supposedly missing and injured herself to support her story. She lied to a federal agent during an interview with the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office and a federal agent, the release stated.
“Countless hours were spent following leads, all in an effort to bring this woman back to her family,” U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert said of the case, according to the release. “Three weeks later, she was found 146 miles south of where she disappeared, and the focus went from trying to find her to trying to find her abductors.”
“Ultimately, the investigation revealed that there was no kidnapping and that time and resources that could have been used to investigate actual crime, protect the community, and provide resources to victims were wasted based on the defendant’s conduct,” he continued.
If convicted, Papini faces up to five years in prison for the charge of lying to a federal agent and up to 25 years in prison for the mail fraud charge, according to the DOJ. She can also be fined up to $250,000 for each charge.
Papini had allegedly gone jogging before her disappearance. When she was found she had male DNA belonging to a former boyfriend on her body, according to authorities.
Her ex told authorities that she had told him that her husband was abusive and that she was afraid and trying to escape from him.