An Oklahoma man was recently arrested on suspicion of blackmail and extortion after he allegedly faked his own kidnapping in order to collect ransom from some of his friends and family members, PEOPLE confirms.
Jonathon Michael Davis, 34, is also suspected of false reporting of a crime.
Oklahoma authorities say the case came to their attention on March 1 when Davis’ family members called police to report that he had been missing since Feb. 27 — and they were receiving ransom messages from his cell phone.
At first the messages were “just asking for money,” Owasso Police Department Deputy Chief Jason Woodruff tells PEOPLE, “and then it escalated to they were holding Mr. Davis captive and implied they would harm him physically if the family didn’t deposit money in a Paypal account.”
The ransom amount, he says, was $375.
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Woodruff says the purported kidnappers sent numerous texts about Davis, including a photo of a broken finger with a message that “they were going to continue breaking fingers until they pay.”
“I have John and I will continue to hurt him until you send the money,” one message read, according to Woodruff. “Tick tock, tick tock.”
The texts also threatened to harm Davis if anyone reported the situation to law enforcement, Woodruff says.
He says investigators immediately enlisted the help of the FBI and the U.S. Marshals.
The same night Davis was reported missing, they tracked down his phone at the River Spirit Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Davis wasn’t far away.
“We were able to find his car in the parking lot in a hotel in Tulsa which is directly south of Owasso,” Woodruff says. “We found him inside the casino sitting at a table gambling.”
What’s more, Davis “still had the phone on him that he was using to send the messages,” according to Woodruff.
“We quickly figured out this was not a real kidnapping or extortion,” he says, adding, “We had [Davis] in custody at 1:30 am. This was going on for just four or five hours.”
Woodruff says Davis allegedly downloaded the broken finger photo from the Internet: “If you do a Google search of broken fingers that image pops up.”
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The suspected scheme is shocking, Woodruff says.
“I can’t imagine putting your family through this for a few hundred dollars, making them think it was a real kidnapping and there was someone out there hurting him,” he says. “It is a lot to put your family through and a lot of trauma for a family to turn out to be a false report.”
“He wasn’t very good at this,” Woodruff says of Davis. “I don’t know if he was thinking about it long term.”
Davis, who has not yet been charged following his arrest, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. He has not retained an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
He is scheduled to appear in court on March 9.