There is an inclination to empathize with those who claim to have been the victims of a criminal act. This is particularly true when the purported event put the alleged victim in serious danger. This can be seen anytime the news reports on criminal allegations, they are often reported as if the suspect has already confessed and been convicted. But of course, accusations of criminal activity are not always what they seem.
A recent incident in New Jersey is a good example. Two men described a harrowing event to police. They explained how a man had approached them and carjacked them. They told the police that he had a gun and made the men drive off in their car. A short time later the car crashed injuring one of the apparent victims. There was in fact a car crash, but there was no carjacker and no carjacking.
To give a little more context, the men had said that they were carjacked as they were leaving a local pub. Police investigating the reported carjacking soon began to question the men's credibility. They suspected that the driver of the car was trying to avoid drunk driving charges related to the accident.
Both men were charged with filing a false police report and hindering an investigation. The driver was also charged with driving under the influence. While it seems that in this case the police were not fooled for long, but it is not difficult to imagine that had the men been only slightly more clever, a false police report like this could have lead to a very real arrest and possibly conviction of someone for a crime that never even occurred.
Source: The Associated Press, "Two N.J. men accused of lying about carjacking to cover up drunk driving crash," March 19, 2012