A Chinese international art student in California allegedly faked her own kidnapping in an attempt to con her parents out of 500,000 yuan ($80,000).
Yimei Wang, a 20-year-old student at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, was arrested on Wednesday and is now facing extortion charges for scamming her own parents. According to police records, Wang posted a $30,000 bail and was released hours after her arrest.
To trick her parents into sending over the money, Wang reportedly sent them a photo of herself tied and gagged inside what appeared to be a hotel room, CBS reports.
Wang’s father, who was living in China, soon sent the demanded ransom money amounting to $80,000.
Meanwhile, Wang’s mother, who was in the U.S., called local police in Pasadena to report that her daughter had been kidnapped. She told authorities that the kidnappers called her and allowed her to speak with her daughter. Over the phone, Wang assured her mom that she was okay but urged her parents to send money.
Using the photo that Wang sent to her parents, officers were able to deduce the location of the room that Wang was supposedly being held.
Investigators would find Wang alone, safe and unhurt, at a motel on Colorado Boulevard on Wednesday morning.
After her arrest, Wang would later admit to authorities that there was no actual kidnapping and she was merely scamming her own parents.
It was not reported whether the student acted alone or that she had any help to commit the crime, which remains under investigation.
“She admitted she took the picture in order to extort the family,” Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema told the Pasadena Star News. “It’s unclear why she needed the money.”