Another blackmailer of McCanns arrested

6th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

6 July 2007, AMSTERDAM (AP) - Police in the Dutch city of Eindhoven have arrested a man suspected of attempting to defraud the parents of missing British girl Madeleine McCann, national prosecutors said Friday.

6 July 2007

AMSTERDAM (AP) - Police in the Dutch city of Eindhoven have arrested a man suspected of attempting to defraud the parents of missing British girl Madeleine McCann, national prosecutors said Friday.

The 39-year-old man, whose name was not released, allegedly pretended to know that Madeleine had been kidnapped and to know the whereabouts of her and her abductors. He demanded a payment of EUR 2 million in return for the information, a prosecution statement said.

After his arrest Wednesday, the man confessed to making the whole story up, and there is no evidence he was involved in her abduction or has any actual information about her whereabouts, prosecutors said.

"The attempted fraud caused unnecessary distress to the parents," the statement said.

"That people get greedy under these circumstances and think they can cash in on the disappearance is totally unacceptable."

The four-year-old girl has been missing since early May, when she disappeared while on vacation in Portugal with her parents.

The suspect sent six e-mails in all addressed to Madeleine's parents from an Internet cafe and an unemployment office, authorities said. At the request of British and Portuguese authorities, Dutch police eventually traced the e-mails to the suspect.

"After his arrest the unemployed suspect ... (said that) out of boredom he had started to play with the feelings of Madeleine's parents," the statement said. "Money was probably his motive although he claims he did not really expect to get it."

The suspect was to be arraigned in Rotterdam later Friday. Prosecution spokesman Wim de Bruin said the man would be charged with attempted fraud, and could face a maximum sentence of four years if convicted.

The Dutch suspect is not the first to attempt to cash in on Madeleine's disappearance.

In Spain, an Italian man and Portuguese woman have been held since June on suspicion of trying to extract money from the McCann family in a similar manner.

Despite widespread media attention devoted to the disappearance, police leads have so far apparently failed to pan out.

Madeleine disappeared on the evening of May 3 after her parents left her and her 2-year-old twin siblings alone in their hotel room in the resort town of Praia da Luz while they dined at a nearby restaurant.

A month ago, Portuguese police said they were searching for a suspect - a white man between 35 and 40 - in connection with the girl's disappearance. They said the suspect had been wearing a dark jacket and beige trousers on the day the girl disappeared, and was spotted possibly carrying the girl near where she had vanished.

[Copyright AP 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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