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California woman arrested for fraud, accused of fabricating kidnapping story

A California woman has been arrested after police say she lied to authorities about her abduction, doubled down on her story and took payments from a fund meant to compensate victims of crime.

U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert, FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan and Shasta County Sheriff Michael L. Johnson announced Thursday that Sherri Papini has been arrested and charged with making false statements to an officer. Federal Law Enforcement Officer and engaging in mail fraud.

In 2016, Papini was reported missing and found weeks later in Yolo County with various injuries, according to a criminal complaint.

The criminal complaint says she told authorities that two Hispanic women had kidnapped her, but police later discovered that she had injured herself and was staying with her former boyfriend.

In a 2020 interview, she continued her lie despite officers telling her it was a crime to lie to federal agents, prosecutors said. She went on to describe her captors and say she was kidnapped, according to the complaint.

Prosecutors also said she received $30,000 in payments over four years from the California Victims Compensation Board.

If found guilty of misrepresentation, she faces a fine of up to $250,000 and up to five years in prison. On the mail fraud charge, she could receive 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

“The 22-day search for Sherri Papini and the subsequent five-year search to find out who would have abducted her not only taxed public resources, but caused the general public to fear for their own safety, a fear that he shouldn’t have endured,” Johnson said.

“The Sheriff’s Office has appreciated the support and patience of the citizens of Shasta County and abroad. This investigation has always been a priority for the Sheriff’s Office to solve as well as our investigative partners at the FBI and the Office of Forensic Services and the California Department of Justice Bureau of Investigation,” it said. -he adds.