Lethbridge man accused of faking abduction charged

Police charged a 25-year-old Lethbridge man who they allege faked his own abduction with public mischief Monday.

Matthew Robillard's disappearance sparked a search across southern Alberta

Police allege Matthew Robillard faked his own abduction to hide a significant financial loss. 1:46

A Lethbridge man who police say faked his own abduction has now been charged with public mischief.

Matthew Robillard, 25, left his Lethbridge home to go to work in Picture Butte on Jan. 31.

He never arrived and his abandoned car was found in a northeast Calgary industrial area, sparking a huge search across southern Alberta.

Matthew Robillard has been charged with public mischief after police allege he faked his own abduction. (CBC)

"This investigation collectively cost in excess of 10s of thousands of dollars when we compile costs on behalf of Calgary and Lethbridge," said Acting Insp. Ian Sanderson.

"Helicopters were in the air, numerous canine teams were out there, forensic experts. We called out a number of specialists who could recover information from telephones. We expended a great deal of resources and public monies out there."

On Feb. 2, Robillard contacted police and was found at a northeast Calgary hotel.

Family believed he was missing, say police

It's possible Robillard was motivated by a significant financial loss that took place before his disappearance, Lethbridge police said.

Investigators think he tried to make it look as though he had been a victim of extortion to account for the loss.

Robillard took deliberate steps to make it appear as though he had been abducted, such as breaking his own vehicle window and injuring himself, police said.

His family was unaware Robillard's disappearance was a hoax, police added.

"They genuinely believed he was missing at that time and possibly the victim of a crime and initiated their own search and rescue effort," said Sanderson.

Robillard is scheduled to appear in court April 8. The maximum penalty for public mischief is five years in prison.