‘Send me back to Australia, I’ve got a rocket launcher’
A man who flew to Lebanon ahead of facing fraud charges three years ago is so desperate to come back to Australia, he has offered to exchange a rocket launcher and 12 missiles if police could help him return. But is the weapon even real?
And it's a move that's becoming overused with police and law enforcement authorities frequently being contacted by criminals offering to hand in a rocket launcher in exchange for any range of benefits like a reduction on their jail sentence.
And given the low success rate - one actual rocket launcher being handed over in almost 20 years - it seems most fall into the fiction category.
The latest was from accused fraudster Ziad Hijazi.
Hijazi was facing fraud charges at Burwood Local Court in 2016 and flew to Lebanon where he was been stranded ever since local authorities refused to let him back into Australia.
According to law enforcement authorities, Hijazi is desperate to return and recently offered to exchange a rocket launcher and 12 missiles if police could help him return.
Sceptical, police asked Hijazi for a photo of the rocket launcher and missiles with proof of the date the photo was taken.
Hijazi sent a photo that featured what appeared to be two shells and no rocket launcher on a copy of a recent copy of The Daily Telegraph.
But it seems the offer was a dud.
Initial examinations of the shells by police indicated they were not actually for a rocket launcher but may have been dummy rounds for a 40mm Bofors gun.
At best, they would be very effective paper weights.
The try on was likely inspired by one of Australia's most notorious crimes.
Between 2001 and 2003, corrupt army officer, Shane Della-Vedova stole 10 rocket launchers from the Australian Army and sold at least five of them to Sydney's Middle Eastern Crime families.
Only one has ever been recovered. That was in 2006 when a double murderer demanded complete immunity from the killings if handed one over.