A woman who tricked an ex-boyfriend into paying her £2,500 after she pretended she had been kidnapped by a gangster has been sentenced to a year in jail.
Charlene Carasco, aged 30, of Standens Barn, Northampton, repeatedly asked her ex-boyfriend to pay cash into her bank account after telling him she was being held against her will by a man who would only release her if the money was paid.
Northampton Crown Court heard police were twice called out to deal with reports of a kidnapping but on both occasions found Carasco was safe and well and had not been the victim of a crime.
Victoria Rose, prosecuting, said Carasco had met her ex-boyfriend via an online dating site in 2011.
She said a relationship developed between the pair and they met on a weekly basis before splitting up in August 2013. However, they remained friends and kept in contact.
The court heard in the summer of 2014 Carasco asked her ex-boyfriend for small sums of money such as £10 or £20 to help pay her bills.
In January 2014, Carasco then contacted him again via the WhatsApp message service and asked if he could transfer a large amount of money to her bank account.
Ms Rose said: “The defendant said she owed a lot of money to a gangster who was holding her against her will.
“She said she had been locked in a car and was being taken to a cash machine to check if the money was in her account.”
The court heard the ex-boyfriend was extremely distressed by the messages and he transferred £700 to her account, followed by another £300.
The next day Carasco contacted him again and said she had been cut on her arm and claimed the gangster was doing “horrible things” to her.
Ms Rose said Carasco told her ex-boyfriend the only way to stop her being assaulted was to transfer more money. He then handed over another £300.
The court heard the ex-boyfriend then contacted the police and she told officers she had no idea why he had reported a kidnapping.
She then sent a message to her ex-boyfriend indicating she had got home safely after the police arrived.
The court heard Carasco then contacted her ex-boyfriend 10 days later and told him her wallet and bank card had been taken by a man called Sean who had demanded £1,500 be paid before she was released.
Ms Rose said WhatsApp messages were sent to the man from the defendants phone claiming to be from Sean.
She said: “Carasco said Sean was threatening to physically hurt and sexually harm her and, if the money wasn’t paid, would sell her to a man who would do disgusting things to her.”
The ex-boyfriend was told not to involve the police but to transfer over the money.
Ms Rose said he spoke to Carasco on the phone and she was “crying saying ‘I’m ok please send over the money’”. The ex-boyfriend then transferred over a further £300 and then called the police.
The report of kidnap was taken extremely seriously by Northants Police and a number of officers were deployed to help find her.
Ms Rose said Carasco was eventually tracked down at a family address and continued to claim she had been threatened by a debt collector called Sean.
She was arrested and investigations revealed all the messages to her ex-boyfriend had been sent by Carasco and it was concluded Sean did not exist.
Carasco was charged with two counts of blackmail and one charge of fraud and she pleaded guilty at a plea and case management hearing.
A victim impact statement, read to the court by the ex-boyfriend, stated he had lost £2,500 to Carasco as a result of her deception.
The man said the money was his life savings and he had been forced to take on a second job to prevent him from falling into debt.
He said he was now much more wary and had trouble trusting new people.
Charles Langley, mitigating, said Carasco was very sorry for her actions and described her behaviour as “disgusting.”
Mr Langley said Carasco had been going through a difficult period in her life during the time of the offences as she was struggling with anxiety and depression after she had a miscarriage.
He said Carasco had recently got a new job and intended to pay all the money back to her ex-boyfriend.
Her Honour Judge Adrienne Lucking, sentencing, said the fact police treated the incident as an attempted kidnap was an “aggravating feature” of the case.
She said: “Your contact with your ex-boyfriend triggered a large police enquiry and wasted police resources.”
Carasco was sentenced to 12 months in jail for all three offences, to be served concurrently. She is likely to serve half her sentence in jail before being released on licence.
Speaking after the case, Detective Inspector Louise Hemmingway said it was a “cruel” offence.
She said: “We spent a lot of time trying to find her. Her ex-boyfriend did not live in Northampton and he was really worried about her.
“He thought she really had been kidnapped.”