At one time or another, we’ve probably all wished that we could just disappear. Bored with our lives or unable to take the stress, we wanted to pack up and start over again someplace else. Though we might have dreamed about it, we never acted on it. These 10 people not only acted on their wish to disappear, they even faked their own abductions.
On the evening of March 12, 2012, Jason Laperriere, 25, of North Bay, Ontario, cruised around town, picked up a woman, and offered her drugs in exchange for sex. The two had sex and then smoked crack until 3:00 AM. Laperriere became worried that his girlfriend might wonder why he didn’t come home that night. So he came up with a plan that he thought was brilliant: He pretended that he had been kidnapped.
Laperriere had his new lady friend text his girlfriend to say that he had been forced into a car at gunpoint by two men over a $12,000 drug debt. Shortly afterward, Laperriere phoned his girlfriend, claiming that the men had pistol-whipped him and driven him around town for a few hours to find out where he lived. Fearing for her boyfriend’s life, Laperriere’s girlfriend contacted police. When Laperriere arrived home a short time later, he was questioned by police. In his statement, he repeated his abduction story and even named his two abductors, triggering a warning to police throughout Canada.
But police became suspicious of his story. During more extensive questioning, Laperriere broke down, confessing that he had made up the whole thing. He was arrested and charged with filing a false police report. Prosecutors recommended a sentence of 4–6 months. Though he was ordered not to have contact with his now ex-girlfriend, he called her from prison, begging her to take him back. She refused his attempts at reconciliation.
9Sierra ‘CeCe’ Sims
Sierra “CeCe” Sims, 18, was the all-American girl: pretty, popular, and athletically gifted. Attending Auburn University in Alabama on a full basketball scholarship, she was one of the stars of her team. But her real love was music. Her father is Tommy Sims, a Grammy winner who cowrote the Eric Clapton hit song, “Change the World.”
She wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps. However, with basketball taking up most of her time, she was left with little time to pursue her passion. Between the grueling schedule of a student athlete and the pressure to succeed on the court, Sims couldn’t handle the pressure. She turned to alcohol, becoming a secret binge drinker.
After attending a concert on campus late one night, Sims failed to show up for practice the following morning. Worried, her coach contacted police. While state troopers, the FBI, and local police began searching for the missing teen, an Amber Alert was issued. Students at the university reported seeing Sims hurry out the back door of her dorm, get on her bike, and take off into the night.
Almost 24 hours later, Sims approached a police officer and identified herself. Then she told a shocking story of abduction: A truck had pulled up outside her dorm, with a man and woman pulling her inside and forcing alcohol and pills down her throat. As police began pressing for more details, Sims confessed to making up the whole story, admitting that she had been at a nearby Walmart. She had caved under all the pressure and needed to get away.
Sims was never charged. She dropped out of the university and currently lives with her parents, where she focuses on her music and receives counseling.
8Caitlyn Rose Pare
Caitlin Rose Pare, 25, was a hardworking, devoted mother to her three-year-old daughter and was not one to cause problems. Then she hurt her back at work and became addicted to prescription painkillers. Her addiction quickly spiraled out of control, forcing Pare to buy oxycontin and fentanyl on the street. When she incurred a $350 debt to her dealer, Pare knew she had to find a way to pay it fast or face serious consequences.
On November 14, 2013, Pare posed as a kidnapper, sending texts to her mother, stepfather, and boyfriend to extract the $350 as a ransom. The text to her mother said that her daughter (Pare) was being held against her will to settle a $350 drug debt. The text to her stepfather warned: “Twenty minutes ’til we f—k up your little girl, old man. This debt will be paid one way or another.” The final message to her boyfriend included a photo of Pare, naked and crouched on a floor, with the text: “This bitch ain’t gonna make it.”
Pare’s mother contacted the police, who were skeptical but still had to treat the event as a kidnapping. Police negotiators became even more suspicious when they spoke directly with Pare on the phone instead of her kidnappers. The police directed Pare to tell her kidnappers that a $350 certified check would be available for them at a bank on Whyte Avenue. Meanwhile, the police tracked the location of Pare’s phone, set up surveillance at that residence, and followed Pare and an unidentified man as they drove to the bank.
Once there, Pare was “rescued” from her “abductor,” and the unidentified man was arrested. During questioning, Pare eventually admitted that she had concocted the whole scheme to get money to settle her drug debt. The man with her was freed when police realized that he hadn’t known what was going on.
In a shocking twist, Pare revealed that she came up with the abduction plot because she actually had been kidnapped and threatened by her dealer a week earlier for a few hours. Police investigated, but Pare refused to give them the name of her dealer.
With Pare missing for 11 hours, the police spent 238 man-hours on the fake abduction. Pare was sentenced to four months of house arrest, eight months of curfew, 18 months of probation, and mandatory counseling.
When 16-year-old Ankita Lavender’s boyfriend broke up with her, the Middleburg, Florida, teen was utterly devastated. She began thinking of ways to get her boyfriend back and decided that sympathy was the best way to do it.
On an April evening in 2014, Lavender called her father to tell him that she had just been kidnapped by two men in a white pickup truck. The girl’s cell phone was then turned off. Her mother frantically contacted the local sheriff’s office.
An Amber Alert was issued while 40 county deputies, with the aid of a helicopter, began an exhaustive search for the teen. Around 10:30 PM, a motorist called 911 to say that he had found a young girl lying on the side of the road. That girl was Lavender.
Though the teen had no visible injuries, she was taken to the hospital. During police questioning, Lavender broke down and admitted that the whole thing had been a hoax. She was trying “to play the sympathy card” to win her boyfriend back. Investigators planned on seeking financial compensation from the parents for the cost of the search, estimated to be around $5,000 to $6,000.
For 19-year-old Aftab Aslam, the parental pressure for academic excellence at college became too much. Aslam attended Gwinnett College in Lilburn, Georgia, where he failed his English class for the second time. He became panicked at the prospect of once again angering his parents.
On April 27, 2013, the teenager purchased an inexpensive cell phone at Target. Pretending to be a gang member, he texted his parents, telling them that their son had just been kidnapped and would be killed if they contacted police. Fearing for their son’s life, the parents did call the police, who turned to the FBI for assistance.
During the investigation, the police found the cell phone used to contact Aslam’s parents and determined that it was purchased by Aslam. That’s when they suspected the kidnapping story was a hoax.
Eight days later, Aslam showed up at his parents’ door, telling them and the police that he had been drugged and held prisoner. The police, who did not believe him, intensified their questioning. Aslam cracked, finally telling the truth. He had not been kidnapped but had been camping in the woods. The weather became horrible, so he returned home. He further stated that he was so scared of telling his parents about his failing grade that he thought his safe return after a fake abduction would make them forget about his grades.
Aslam was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats, making false statements, falsely reporting a crime, and tampering with evidence.
In April 2005, Jennifer Wilbanks, a 32-year-old medical assistant from Duluth, Georgia, was engaged to John Mason. The wedding was described as the social event of the year with 14 bridesmaids and 14 groomsmen. About 600 wedding invitations had been sent. So when the fiancee of a man from a prominent family disappeared four days before the wedding, it sparked a media frenzy on a national scale.
Around 8:30 PM on April 26, Wilbanks left the home she shared with her fiance to go for a run. When she didn’t return, Mason went out looking for her. He also called local hospitals. When midnight came and there was still no sign of Wilbanks, Mason went to the police and filed a missing person report. By that afternoon, approximately 300 people were out looking for Wilbanks. After a clump of hair that might have belonged to her was found two days later, Mason took a polygraph test, which he passed. A reward of $100,000 was posted. Every major American news network was now covering this story.
Four days after her disappearance, Wilbanks called her fiance from New Mexico. She told him that she had been abducted and sexually assaulted by a white female and a Hispanic male.
After an FBI agent told Wilbanks that her story didn’t make sense, she broke down and admitted that she had faked her kidnapping. Apparently, she was overwhelmed with planning such an elaborate wedding. She told the FBI that she had taken a Greyhound bus to Las Vegas and then to New Mexico.
Wilbanks was charged with one felony count of making false statements to police and one misdemeanor count of making a false report of a crime, although the misdemeanor count was later dropped. She was sentenced to two years of probation and 120 hours of community service. She was also ordered into mental health treatment and had to pay restitution to the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department. Later, she settled with the city of Duluth, paying them over $13,000 for search costs (although they initially asked for $40,000).
In 2006, Wilbanks sued Mason for her share of the money he received for selling their story as well as the money meant for the honeymoon they never took.
In Feasterville, Pennsylvania, 38-year-old Bonnie Sweeten enjoyed a lavish lifestyle—eating out at upscale restaurants several times a week, taking exotic vacations several times a year, and buying designer clothes and handbags. Many people wondered how she could afford it as a paralegal. Her new husband was a self-employed landscaper, so he didn’t make much money, either.
The truth was that Sweeten was committing fraud at the law office where she worked. She stole $640,000 from the firm and obtained a loan of $150,000 against her boss’s real estate. She also stole $280,000 from an elderly relative. She even lied to her husband, telling him that she had earned a law degree.
When Sweeten found out that she was being investigated for theft, the wife and mother decided to flee. In May 2009, Sweeten called 911 to report that she and her nine-year-old daughter had been carjacked by two black men and placed in the trunk of another car. In reality, Sweeten and her daughter were boarding a flight to Disney World.
When police discovered that Sweeten had withdrawn $12,000 from her bank accounts, they became skeptical of the kidnapping story. She also borrowed a coworker’s ID, saying it had to be photocopied to roll over a 401(k). Police found that Sweeten’s flight and hotel room had been booked in that coworker’s name. Airport security footage showed Sweeten and her daughter boarding a flight to Orlando.
Thirty hours after the 911 call, Sweeten was arrested. She was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison and ordered to pay $1 million in restitution.
There have been numerous incidents of Israeli citizens being kidnapped and even murdered by Palestinians. As a result, when the Israeli police get a call that one of their citizens has gone missing near a Palestinian village, it’s taken seriously, and the army often gets involved. That’s exactly what happened when 22-year-old Niv Asraf was reported missing.
In April 2015, police received a call from IDF soldier Eran Nagauker stating that he and Asraf had been driving in the West Bank area when they got a flat tire. According to Nagauker, Asraf went to the nearby Palestinian village of Beit Anun to get tools to fix the tire while Nagauker stayed with the vehicle. But Asraf never returned. Considering that three Israeli teens had been abducted and murdered a year earlier in that area, a full-scale manhunt began for Asraf.
Hundreds of Shin Bet security agents, police, and soldiers were deployed to find Asraf. They used helicopters, house-to-house searches, roadblocks, and war rooms.
Asraf was later found in a nearby village with a sleeping bag and canned goods. His abduction was obviously an elaborate hoax. At first, it was thought that Asraf had faked his kidnapping to win back his ex-girlfriend. But the young man eventually confessed to police that he wanted to disappear because he couldn’t pay gambling debts owed to criminals.
Asraf’s parents apologized to the public. Both Asraf and Nagauker were accused of giving false evidence, breach of public order, and obstruction to a police officer in the performance of his duty.
In 2014, police were called to 42-year-old Robert Groomer’s home in Ardmore, Oklahoma, for a domestic issue. As a result, his wife was able to get an order of protection. She later divorced Groomer and moved from Oklahoma to Louisiana. However, Groomer was determined to win back his former wife by any means.
In August 2015, various media outlets throughout Louisiana were contacted with claims that a man named Robert Groomer had been kidnapped and was being held hostage. The TV networks, fearing that the man’s life was in jeopardy, contacted police. A criminal investigation was launched with the FBI’s assistance.
A couple of days later, police responded to a structure fire near Natchitoches, Louisiana. The home belonged to Groomer’s ex-wife. An investigation revealed that the fire was deliberately set. Several cylinders had been stacked under the home to create an explosion. Police soon became suspicious when they learned that Groomer had been previously convicted of federal explosive charges. Meanwhile, TV stations were contacted by the kidnapper, who claimed responsibility for the fire.
Police were able to gather enough forensic evidence to get an arrest warrant. On August 24, 2015, the FBI located Groomer and arrested him. He was charged with attempted murder, aggravated arson, manufacture and possession of a bomb, and violation of a protective order.
The disappearance of 37-year-old Quinn Gray seems like it was taken right from The New York Times best-selling book and blockbuster movie Gone Girl. The alleged abduction garnered national media attention and was the focus of a Dateline episode.
On September 4, 2009, 38-year-old Reid Gray, a wealthy health care executive, arrived home in Ponte Vedra, Florida, to find a letter written by his wife, Quinn. It stated that three men were holding her hostage and were demanding $50,000. Although the note told Reid not to contact the authorities, he called the local sheriff’s office, and the FBI quickly got involved.
The following day, Quinn contacted her husband, saying that her captors wanted the money dropped off at a local Chik-Fil-A restaurant. However, when Reid arrived, his wife called him again to say that the police had been spotted. The following day, Quinn’s mother was instructed to drop off the money at a restaurant at the beach. The money was inadvertently picked up by college students, who contacted the police.
On September 7, Quinn walked up to deputies and identified herself. After being taken to an FBI office, Quinn stated that her abductor was named Jasmin, drove a white Volkswagen Jetta, and worked for a loan shark. Police were able to track down the alleged kidnapper, 25-year-old Jasmin Osmanovic. But his story was quite different than the one Quinn had told investigators.
Osmanovic told authorities that he had met Quinn at a gas station where he was a mechanic and the two hit it off. She had confided in Osmanovic about her husband’s affairs and her drinking problem, for which she had received treatment. Osmanovic and Quinn began an affair. That weekend, as they were spending time together at a motel, the two hatched a plan to extort money from her husband. For proof, Osmanovic offered up a 90-minute audio tape of the two having sex and plotting the kidnapping.
After Osmanovic pled guilty to extortion, he received six years of probation and was ordered to pay $43,000 restitution, half the amount spent in the search for Quinn.
Quinn pled no contest to extortion. She was given seven years of probation and was also ordered to pay $43,000 restitution. In 2011, she was accused of violating her probation by talking to the media and falling behind on her restitution. The Grays have since divorced, with Reid having to pay his former wife $10,000 a month in alimony.
Amanda often has to attend social engagements with someone she doesn’t like. She wishes she could be kidnapped to avoid going but quite honestly is too lazy to plot her own abduction, so instead she drinks copious amounts of wine to make the situation more tolerable.