Police: California man fakes his own kidnapping, tries to extort money from his mother

An Orange County, California, man is behind bars after he reportedly faked his own kidnapping in an attempt to get money from his mother. He pleaded “not guilty” to attempted extortion charges on Wednesday.

The OCR reports that Robert Nunez, 31, is accused of posing as a kidnapper while texting his own mother photos of “torture tools” there were to be used on him if she didn’t come up with $300. The mom, who wants to remain anonymous, said that the alleged “kidnapper” told her to leave the money taped to daughter’s car tire. According to Sgt. Julian Rodriguez with the Santa Ana Police Department, she didn’t initially contact authorities because she thought they wouldn’t believe the story.

“Initially she received a text message saying, ‘Your son is dead.’ She had been conducting an investigation on her own out on the street for a few days prior to that when she started receiving some troubling information or requests via text.”

The text messages prompted the mother to phone police. When they began investigating, authorities determined that it was Nunez himself who had set up his own kidnapping and ransom.

“It was determined that the person who was reported missing, he himself was the person submitting the ransom request of his mother, trying to get money out of her,” Rodriguez said.

Authorities indicated that Nunez was a transient and in need of money, so he concocted a plan to make his mother think he would be tortured if she didn’t pay. His mother felt that someone else likely put him up to such a cruel act.

Regardless, Nunez was arrested on on suspicion of attempted extortion, a crime that’s happening more and more across the nation, according to Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna. In fact, it was the third fake hostage incident this year in Santa Ana county alone.

“The homicide unit had to stop their three open (homicide cases) to help this guy from supposedly being murdered. They take away resources that are needed to address real problems,” Bertanga said.

Nunez’s charges were eventually upgraded to “attempted extortion by threat.” He remains behind bars at that Santa Ana County jail with bail set at $28,000.

[Feature Photo: Santa Ana County Jail]