Skip to main content

Fake bomb on Australian teen an extortion plot, police say

By the CNN Wire Staff
Click to play
Parents thankful after Aussie bomb hoax
  • NEW: Police: It is a "very serious attempted extortion"
  • It is too early in the investigation to determine a suspect, police say
  • Bomb experts spend 10 hours trying to free the teen
  • The suspected bomb was a "very, very elaborate hoax," officials say

(CNN) -- A masked man who broke into an Australian home, forcibly strapped a fake bomb onto a teen's neck and fled was attempting a "serious" extortion, Australian police said Thursday.

Madeleine Pulver, 18, told police that a man wearing a disguise entered her home Wednesday afternoon in the wealthy suburb of Mosman and attached the suspicious device to her.

Officials later determined the suspected bomb did not contain explosives, describing it as a "very, very elaborate hoax."

The teen was not hurt, and is in good spirits after she was freed hours later, said her father, William Pulver.

Sydney bomb squad frees teenage girl
Elaborate bomb 'hoax device' in Australia

"She is a little tired, a little sore from holding this damned device in place for about 10 hours," her father said. "But she is now, as we are, eager to get on with her life."

Chilling ordeal: Held 'bomb' for 10 hours

The case is "a very serious attempted extortion," Luke Moore, the Australian police superintendent, said at a news conference Thursday.

"I can also confirm that the examination of the device has revealed that there was in fact no explosives."

Moore said a letter attached to the suspicious device made "serious" demands, but he declined to elaborate on its contents.

Bomb experts spent 10 hours trying to free the woman. The situation was resolved early Thursday morning.

Officials also said they have no evidence to suggest that the hoax was linked to another crime, and it's too early in the investigation to determine a suspect.

Pulver was taken to a local hospital but has since been released and reunited with her parents.

There was a need for a medical assessment since she was in an uncomfortable position for hours, Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch said.

Pulver's family urged the media Thursday to respect their privacy.

The investigation into the incident will be led by the State Crime Command's Robbery and Serious Crime Squad, according to a statement on the New South Wales Police Department's website. That unit deals with extortion, according to ABC Australia.

"This is an unusual incident for New South Wales and indeed Australia," Murdoch told ABC Australia. "I'm not aware of anything like this happening in the country before, and I think that is what's made it so unusual ... Certainly the family are at a loss to explain this. But you wouldn't expect someone would go to this much trouble if there wasn't a motive behind it."

Mosman is a very wealthy suburb on Sydney Harbor, where many well-connected people, sports stars and celebrities live.