Grandpa Kidnaps Granddaughter for $72,000 Ransom to Pay Off Gambling Debts

Man targets his four-year-old granddaughter.

A 65-year-old Chinese man has been sentenced to prison for kidnapping his own granddaughter and holding her for $72,000 ransom so he could feed his gambling addiction. It's unclear when the incident occurred, but the man (identified only by his last name, Yuan) began serving his prison sentence recently, the Shanghai Law and Rule Journal reported. Read on to find out how Yuan proceeded with his ill-fated kidnapping plot, and how he defended himself in court.

Texted Daughter Ransom Demand

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Yuan's plan involved picking up his four-year-old granddaughter from her kindergarten class and taking her out to eat and shop without her mother's knowledge. When the girl's mother came to the school and realized her daughter was missing, she received a message from Yuan demanding $72,000, the Journal reported. "Take out 500,000 yuan in three days, or you'll never see your precious daughter again!" Yuan told his daughter, according to the news outlet.

What He Said in Court

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The daughter called Yuan to talk him out of the plot but was unsuccessful, the Journal said. She then reported him to the police. Yuan was arrested that night and charged with extortion. The elderly man pleaded not guilty to the charges. In court, he argued that kidnapping should be considered a family dispute and not a crime, the Journal reported. This can be a legitimate defense in China, where courts can rule that some crimes within families are "family affairs." But that didn't happen in this case.

More Drama Followed Jailing

close up of hands holding bars in prison
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Yuan was apparently desperate for money when he cooked up the kidnapping scheme. He had incurred large gambling debts and had recently been diagnosed with stomach cancer, the Journal reported. Additionally, Yuan's wife had divorced him and his work was suffering. When he was jailed, Yuan went on a hunger strike and didn't get along with other prisoners, the Journal reported. "I'm 65 years old, and my daughter still comes after me. She doesn't want me to improve, she just wants me to die!" he kept saying to authorities, according to the news outlet. After his daughter and ex-wife contacted him in prison, he has since become more cooperative, the Journal reported.

Another Attempt to Extort Relatives

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This isn't the first time a fake kidnapping has generated international headlines. Last September, police said a woman in Spain faked her own kidnapping in an attempt to extort $50,000 from her mother—for the fourth time. According to a Sept. 5 news release from Spain's Civil Guard, the mother received a video that seemingly showed her daughter being held hostage. The younger woman was blindfolded and gagged, with a knife held to her neck and an apparent spot of blood near her mouth.  "If you want to see me alive, you have to pay them," she said in the video, El Pais reported.

Fourth Time Wasn't the Charm

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The mother had previously received three letters threatening her daughter's life and demanding money, police said. She had already paid $45,000 in response to those demands. When authorities investigated the video, they found the daughter unharmed at a casino in Tenerife. Police arrested the woman and four others, all members of her partner's family, on charges of extortion and simulating a crime.

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