Fresno man arrested after faking his own kidnapping to extort money from his father

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Fresno County deputies said a father almost became the victim of an extortion scheme this week after someone sent him a ransom note demanding money in exchange for his son. (KFSN)

Fresno County deputies said a father almost became the victim of an extortion scheme this week after someone sent him a ransom note demanding money in exchange for his son.

The cry for help came from the 5800 hundred block of West Olive. Someone sent Hollis Priest's father several texts claiming to have kidnapped his 35-year-old son.

"The gentleman called the sheriff's office right away, we got our detective involved right away," said Tony Botti, Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

The kidnapper used Priest's phone to communicate and demanded thousands of dollars in ransom. Detectives worked out arrangements and organized a drop off location Monday afternoon at Clinton and Brawley.

"All they would have to do is arrive and we'd do the money swap. We'd take Hollis back, they could have the cash," said Botti.

The kidnappers were instructed to come to a parking lot where the ransom money would be, but instead, several undercover officers were waiting for them.

"Lo and behold, there's priest in the passenger seat and he jumps out and goes for the cash. So that was telltale sign that he wasn't in danger, he was just trying to money," said Botti.

When detectives went to go confront Priest they say he immediately became combative.

"As I was watching, there was a lot of commotion, a lot of officers going back and forth, checking on someone in an ambulance, just a lot going on back and forth," said the witness.

Priest was arrested and so was the driver who dropped him off for unrelated charges.

Deputies said there's no doubt Priest was the mastermind behind this scheme targeting his own father.

"Something like this shows how low people can stoop, a guy trying to con his own dad out of money," said Botti.

Priest faces several felony charges including extortion and false reporting of a kidnapping.
Related Topics:
newskidnappingfraudfresno county sheriff departmentfresnoFresno
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