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Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Friday, 12 December 2008

Spanish fake kidnap mother jailed

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A Spanish woman has been found guilty of staging the fake kidnapping of her two children seven times in order to obtain ransom money from her husband.

Over five years, Josefa Sanchez Vargas conned her estranged husband out of more than 600,000 euros (535,000), saying she had to pay the kidnappers.

But he eventually became suspicious, and hired a detective to investigate.

Sanchez Vargas has been jailed for three-and-a-half years. Two accomplices have also been given jail terms.

The provincial court in Madrid heard how she invented increasingly bizarre stories behind the kidnappings.

The first time, in 2001, she told her husband, identified only as Pedro GM, that strangers had broken into the family home to take her daughter and had demanded a ransom of 30,000 euros.

He then handed over another 48,000 euros the following year, believing the girl had been kidnapped again.

In 2003, Sanchez Vargas said her son had been kidnapped by clothing dealers to whom she owed money. Mr GM agreed to pay the "debt" of 36,000 euros.

Then in 2004, Mr GM paid out 54,000 euros, believing his son was being held by drug dealers.

Pedro's family finally convinced him to hire someone because they didn't believe a word of the claims
Jose Antonio Novo
Private detective

In December and January, Sanchez Vargas obtained 180,000 euros from Mr GM, claiming that the boy had been seized by gypsies who were demanding blood money in exchange for the boy having sex with a 13-year-old in their family.

Finally, in September 2006, she claimed that her son had been grabbed in the street and asked Mr GM for 252,000 euros in ransom money. On that occasion, the boy himself called Mr GM to say he had been kidnapped.

However, by that time Mr GM had hired a private detective, Jose Antonio Novo, who saw the teenaged son chatting with friends shortly after he made the phone call.

"Pedro's family finally convinced him to hire someone because they didn't believe a word of the claims," the Telegraph newspaper quoted Mr Novo as saying.

Mr Novo said Mr GM was in love with Sanchez Vargas and did not want any harm to come to his family, reported Europa Press.

He said Mr GM still had very strong feelings for Sanchez Vargas, and as such had renounced any rights to reclaim the money.



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