HAMMOND, Ind. (CBS) — An Indiana couple is facing charges of extortion after allegedly being involved in a fake kidnapping scam.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports, authorities say an unidentified Illinois man paid about $75,000 over the past several months, in order to keep his ex-girlfriend safe from the person he thought had kidnapped and shot her.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports
But when police finally found the ex-girlfriend, Michelle Guadalupe Solano, she was having dinner with her husband at the Panera Brea in Munster, Ind., unharmed and free of gunshot or other wounds she was supposed to have.
Now, Solano and her husband, Juan Hacha, who owns homes in Hammond and Whiting, Ind., are facing charges of extortion, according to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Hammond.
According to the complaint, the man first received a phone call from Solano, who also goes by the name Ixchel, in April. She told him she and her children were being held, and that the man had to deposit money into a bank account or else she and her children would be killed.
Despite the man doing so, the calls for ransom money continued. Every two weeks, the man was instructed to place $2,400 in the account. When the man asked the bank one time who owned the account, they told him Hacha did, the complaint says.
The demands for money increased Tuesday, the complaint says, when a man identified as Hacha called the victim to demand $35,000 in order for him to release Solano. He called the man several more times that day. During one call, the man, who was in Chicago, could hear Solano screaming in the background while Hacha said “this was not a joke,” the complaint says.
Police were eventually brought in and began recording the calls. In one of the recorded calls, Hacha can be heard saying he was breaking Solano’s fingers while she could again be heard screaming, the complaint says. In another call, according to the complaint, Hacha said he had shot Solano.
The man offered to pay $3,000 and give Hacha a Volkswagen, but Hacha turned the offer down.
When police began searching records on Hacha, they discovered Solano had listed him as her husband on several utility bills. They tracked them down that day to the Panera restaurant, where both were arrested.
According to the complaint, Solano told the FBI Hacha had created the plan to get money from her ex-boyfriend and she agreed to go along with it. Hacha told them the man owed them money, the complaint says.
Both Hacha and Solano are being held without bond pending their transfer to the U.S. District Court in Chicago, where they are being charged, according to court records.
The Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.