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An Australian court is ordering a man who staged his own kidnapping to compensate police for the hassle of investigating the fake crime.
Paul Iera, 35, messaged his girlfriend on New Year’s Eve 2022 from his own phone, pretending to be a group of Middle Eastern kidnappers.
The man from Wollongong, New South Wales, was found to be lying in order to spend the night with another woman.
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Paul Iera, 36, of Wollongong, New South Wales, made his girlfriend believe that he was kidnapped. (Facebook)
Posing as the fictional abductors, Iera reportedly told his girlfriend that he would be held captive until morning – prompting her to call Lake Illawarra district police to investigate.
Iera contacted his father the next day, telling him he was being dropped off by kidnappers back at his car in Wollongong.
Police pulled over Iera’s van the same day, finding only him inside – Iera continued to play along with the false report, leading authorities on a wild goose chase for over 200 hours.
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Iera was busted after security footage showed him with a prostitute on the night in question – separate footage showed him with his mistress not long after initially contacting his father about the kidnapping.
A van marked with the New South Wales Police insignia. Authorities in Wollongong, NSW, spent over 200 hours investigating Paul Iera’s kidnapping hoax. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
“You chose to send alarming, frightening messages to your partner so you could get some extra time with another partner,” Magistrate Michael Ong told Iera, according to 9 News. “You thought that would be a great way to do it – any reasonable person would have gone to the public, and that is exactly what happened.”
The judge continued, “You are at a point where you need to make a choice. You either take a step back, look at yourself and your circumstances and move toward furthering yourself, or alternatively you will move into a situation where imprisonment will be a very realistic option.”
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Iera was sentenced Tuesday to 350 hours of community service and was ordered to pay $16,000 in compensation.
“Since the commission of the offense, Mr. Iera has made tremendous rehabilitative progress, and today’s outcome is reflective of [the] Court’s attempt to promote that ongoing rehabilitation,” attorney Abbas Soukie said in a statement.
He added, “Mr. Iera continues to enjoy the support of his family and partner, and wishes to move forward with life as a productive member of the community,”
Timothy Nerozzi is a writer for Fox News Digital. You can follow him on Twitter @timothynerozzi and can email him at [email protected]