Police: Montoursville scam for ‘ransom’ led to mobilizing rescue teams at home

Authorities were sent on a wild goose chase when a brother, frantic that someone was holding his sister captive, called state police for help.

On March 26, Corey Conway, who lives in another state that was not listed in court records, reported that he was receiving frightening instant messages from his sister, Maura Hunter. The messages said that Hunter and her boyfriend, Doug Harding, had gotten into debt and were being held captive in their home at gunpoint. The messages went on to ask Conway if he could wire money to pay off the gunmen, records state.

Officers went to Hunter and Harding’s residence at 519 N. Washington St., Montoursville, and set up surveillance around the home, according to reports.

Police tried to phone Hunter and Harding, but the call went right to voice mail, records state. Meanwhile, Conway told authorities that he had just received another instant message stating “they were going to kill her if they didn’t get the money,” according to the affidavit.

Officers in charge began to mobilize an emergency rescue team. Soon after, an officer at the back of the residence reported that three individuals had just left the building. They were Hunter, Harding and Harding’s mother, according to reports.

As officers cleared the residence, Harding allegedly admitted that he was the person who had messaged Conway. Harding said he recently had “scammed a guy out of a bunch of DVDs” and that man was demanding his money back and allegedly had been making threats toward Harding.

Harding, who has been charged with disorderly conduct, waived his preliminary hearing before District Judge Gary Whiteman on May 6. He has been released on $2,500 bail.