Sherri Papini, who pretended to be kidnapped, still owes $300,000 and prosecutors are after it

(Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

Sherri Papini, who pretended to be kidnapped, still owes $300,000 and prosecutors are after it

California Politics

Hannah Wiley

March 27, 2024

Sherri Papini, the woman who fabricated her own elaborate kidnapping and went to prison for mail fraud and lying to federal agents, still owes more than $300,000 in restitution, federal officials say.



was ordered to pay $309,902 in restitution when she was sentenced to federal prison in September 2022, nearly six years after she staged her own kidnapping and launched a frantic search that made national headlines.

But as of March 22, federal officials say, Papini still owes almost all of that money.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California has filed a $340,221.23 seizure application against Papini, including a 10% court surcharge.

The law firm representing Papini in her divorce is also targeted in the subpoena. According to the filing, Papini has a “substantial, non-exempt interest in real property” that is in “the possession, custody or control of” the law firm.

Representatives for Papini did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Sherri Papini has devised a wild kidnapping hoax. The true story is even stranger

Papini went missing from her Redding home for 22 days in 2016, sparking searches across rural Shasta County and prompting desperate pleas for help from her then-husband, Keith Papini.

Three weeks later, Papini reappeared on the side of a Yolo County highway, bruised and emaciated, with her long blond hair shaved short and the mark on her right shoulder.

Papini initially claimed that she was kidnapped while out and about by two Latinas at gunpoint and that they held her captive before letting her go.

Instead, Papini had fled south to Costa Mesa with an ex-boyfriend, picking him up for several weeks while her family and community at home searched for her.

Papini maintained her story for years, even when the investigation into her kidnapping led police back to the ex-boyfriend. It all started to crumble in August 2020, when Papini was confronted by investigators in an interview and warned that it was a crime to lie to federal officers.

Papini stuck to her story for another year and a half before federal authorities arrested the “super mom” in March 2022 and charged her with mail fraud and lying to authorities.

Sherri Papini, accused of faking a 2016 kidnapping, injured herself to further her deception, FBI say

The ex-boyfriend had told investigators that Papini had injured herself and cut her own hair, and that he had helped her burn her shoulder with a wood burner. After she said she missed her home and her family, he drove her back to the Redding area; she reappeared in Woodland, about 150 miles south, on Thanksgiving.

Papini pleaded guilty in April 2022 and was later sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution “for losses incurred by the California Victim Compensation Board, the Social Security Administration, the Shasta County Sheriffs Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation “. according to the US Attorney’s Office.

Papini had received $30,000 from the state’s victim compensation fund, money set aside for crime victims and their families, and used it in part to pay for therapy sessions and sun protection. She was released from federal prison and into the community for six months in early August 2023.

I am so sorry for the many people who suffered because of me, Papini said in court as she was sentenced. I’m guilty, Your Honor. I am guilty of lying, guilty of dishonor.”


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