A mum-of-three attempted to dupe police and Interpol by claiming she was the victim of a £65,000 international extortion plot at the hands of her rich French lover.
Tracy Barron, from Ballater, claimed her oil worker ex-boyfriend had attempted to extort the five-figure sum from her by threatening to release intimate pictures to family members and the press.
The multi-national deception even saw Barron, 46, convince a pal to post her fake extortion letter back to Scotland from Paris.
But her web of lies was exposed when cops managed to tie DNA evidence on the stamp to Barron’s friend.
The man was arrested and he blew the lid off her bizarre scheme.
Told police she was living in ‘constant fear’ pics would be released
Fiscal depute Lucy Simpson told Aberdeen Sheriff Court that in June 2019 Barron contacted police claiming she had been the victim of attempted extortion by her ex-partner.
She said: “The accused told police she had received a typed letter from her former partner that warned the accused and requested that she transfer €75,000 (£65,000) within 14 days, otherwise intimate images of her would be disclosed to her family and sent to the newspapers.”
Barron told officers that she had been “living in constant fear” and a six-month-long investigation was launched involving Police Scotland’s International Division, French authorities and Interpol.
Ms Simpson said Barron told police she was especially worried about the two-week deadline on the letter and “at points expressed her dissatisfaction that her ex had not yet been arrested”.
After police discovered the DNA profile of Barron’s friend on the letter, he was cautioned and interviewed at Kittybrewster Police Station, where he revealed Barron’s role.
He said she had asked him to post the letter when she found out he was flying from Aberdeen Airport to Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris for work.
He told police he thought the request was “harmless” and that Barron had told him it could help her in her separation case against her former partner.
The mum-of-three was then charged with wasting police time.
Isolation had caused ‘siege mentality’
Defence solicitor Peter Keene told the court that Barron had become an “emotional wreck” following the breakdown of her original marriage and the relationship that followed.
He said being isolated from friends saw his client develop a kind of “siege mentality” after the demise of her relationship with the wealthy French oil worker.
“It would be fair to say that Mrs Barron had reached a point of rock-bottom in her life,” he said.
“She understands that this is a serious matter that caused officers a great deal of time and effort to investigate.
“She is utterly horrified at having to come to count today.”
‘You can be in no doubt about how serious a position you find yourself in’
Sheriff Morag McLaughlin told Barron: “I think you can be in no doubt about how serious a position you find yourself in today.
“This is serious in terms of the number of hours of work that the police have put into it and the amount of extensive, complicated inquiries and police resources.
“Not to mention the unfortunate man who was arrested and questioned by police.”
As an alternative to a prison sentence, Sheriff McLaughlin sentenced Barron, of Queens Road, Ballater, to a two-year supervision order and 200 hours unpaid work.