A 27-year-old US citizen living in India allegedly staged her own kidnapping after she ran out of money in an attempt to extort cash from her parents, police said on Sunday.
The woman, identified as Chloe Mclaughlin, had come to Delhi on May 3. She is a graduate from a university in the US and her father, who lives in Washington, DC, is an ex-army officer, they said.
The police said that on July 7, Mclaughlin called her mother and said that she was in an "unsafe environment" and was being assaulted and beaten by a man known to her.
Her current location wasn't disclosed, authorities said.
Her mother approached the authorities in India, and the US Embassy forwarded the matter to New Delhi district police. The case had been reported after more than two-and-a-half months of arrival of the victim in India, the police said.
On July 10, Mclaughlin again spoke to her mother via a video call on WhatsApp, but just before her mother could get some more information about her, a man entered the room and their call was cut short.
The US Embassy conjectured that the woman was either incapacitated or was being prevented from contacting her family or the mission, said Amrutha Guguloth, deputy commissioner of police.
The police said they used technical intelligence and, in order to ascertain her most recent whereabouts, sought help from Yahoo.com for the IP address Mclaughlin had used to send an e-mail to American Citizen Services regarding her immigration document work on July 9.
When the Bureau of Immigration was requested to provide the immigration form of the alleged victim, they gave police the address she had shared with them, which was in Greater Noida, the officer said.
Accordingly, the police conducted raids at a hotel, where she was suspected to have stayed. But the staff there said no one by her name had checked into their hotel. Meanwhile, investigators found that the Mclaughlin was using someone else's WiFi when she made the video call to her mother, Guguloth said.
"Our team tracked the IP address and the mobile network associated with that IP address, which led us to one Okoroafor Chibuike Okoro, 31, a Nigerian national, in Gurugram. He told the police that the woman was staying in Greater Noida," she said.
Following his input, police tracked down Mclaughlin and arrested her. When questioned, she confessed that she had staged her kidnapping as she had run out of money within few days of reaching Delhi, following which she and her boyfriend, Okoro, hatched a plan to extort money from her parents, the DCP said.
The woman's passport had expired on June 6 and her boyfriend's passport too had run out of validity, the police said. She had come to India to stay with Okoro, whom she had befriended on Facebook.
Both of them were living together and were passionate about singing. That might be the reason they became friends, the officer said.