YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A 16-year-old runaway is facing charges after Youngstown police say she orchestrated a fake kidnapping to extort money from her father.
Officers were called to a home in the city on Tuesday for a report of a missing girl. Her parents told police that they had received several text messages from her stating that she had been kidnapped and that her captors had a gun to her head and were demanding ransom money be sent via CashApp.
Police said phone calls from the “captors” followed.
Investigators searched for the girl but discovered that the girl may have concocted the scheme to get money from her father.
According to a news release from the police department, after a five-hour search involving multiple jurisdictions, officers found the girl safe and unharmed, not far from her home.
The following departments worked on the case:
- Youngstown Police Department
- Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office
- Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations
- FBI Youngstown office
- U.S. Marshals
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
- Child Abduction Response Team
“All of these entities are on-board for five hours conducting this investigation, only to discover that the juvenile had perpetrated the entire offense just to extort money from her father,” Youngstown police Capt. Jason Simon said.
The teenager is now facing charges of inducing panic, making false alarms, two counts of telecommunications harassment, extortion, two counts of theft and possession of criminal tools.
“We want to emphasize that actions such as these — whether committed by juveniles or adults — are serious criminal matters and will be investigated and criminal[ly] prosecuted,” read a news release from Simon.