A Californian woman who earlier this year confessed to faking the kidnapping and lying to the FBI was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Sherri Papini pleaded guilty in April to mail fraud and lying to law enforcement. Papini, mother of two, was reported missing in Redding, California in November 2016 and reappeared three weeks later on Thanksgiving with injuries including a heel on her arm.

40-year-old Papini said she was abducted by two Latin American women, but DNA evidence on her clothes points to her ex-boyfriend, whom she actually lived with when she was allegedly kidnapped. He later told investigators that he had marked her and dropped her off on Interstate 5 after she said she wanted to go home.

However, before that, authorities had carried out an extensive search for fake hijackers and Paprini had received money from the Victim Compensation Fund.

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Prosecutors said the incident sparked widespread panic in the community, and the harsher sentence would deter would-be fraudsters from attempting similar scams.

They also recommended three years of supervised release after her imprisonment.

Papini was sentenced to pay close to $ 310,000 in damages.

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“Papini planned and carried out a sophisticated kidnapping hoax and then perpetuated her false testimony for years after her return, regardless of the harm she caused to others,” prosecutors wrote. “As a result, state and federal investigators devoted limited resources to the Papini case for almost four years before independently discovering the truth: that she had not been kidnapped and tortured.”

“Papini has made innocent people the target of a criminal investigation,” added prosecutors. “She left the public for fear of alleged Hispanic kidnappers who allegedly remained at large.”

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