An Irish property developer who alleged he was kidnapped and held captive for eight months made up the extraordinary story, it has been claimed.
Kevin McGeever reportedly came clean after being arrested on suspicion of wasting gardai time on Thursday.
The former tycoon from Mayo - who was emaciated and disorientated when found wandering a roadside barefoot - said he made up the elaborate tale to escape financial pressure.
Garda sources said the 68-year-old caved under questioning, according to the Sunday Independent. The newspaper reported that the cash-strapped McGeever admitted to staging his kidnapping and subsequent release to keep investors off his back.
His plan went awry when the couple who found him wandering the Cavan-Leitrim border on January 29 insisted on bringing him to a garda station, which led to a full-scale investigation.
McGeever, who had lost about five stone, claimed he had been abducted at gunpoint from his gated mansion in May last year.
The businessman had the word "thief" inked on his forehead when he was found. His beard had grown out and his finger nails had not been cut for months.
He has since admitted that the eight-month ruse was an attempt to get breathing space from people hounding him for cash. He also hoped they would leave him alone following his emergence from the alleged captivity for fear they might become suspects in the "abduction".
According to the Sunday Independent, McGeever said he lived in self-imposed exile in a remote part of the west of Ireland.
He was quizzed for 24 hours at Gort garda station but was released without charge on Friday night. A garda spokesman said a file was now being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.