The operation – which cost several thousands of pounds – saw officers raid a number of homes, trawl through CCTV footage and mobile phones and even arrest one man on suspicion of kidnap.
But during the course of their investigation furious officers were told it was all an elaborate “ruse” so the 32-year-old boyfriend could stay out drinking.
Hours after the police investigation started, officers found the man partying at a house at 1.20am on Saturday.
He told cops it was a “wind up” before he was arrested and given a fixed penalty notice for wasting police time.
More than a dozen police officers were involved during the course of the investigation.
The search started after the man’s girlfriend became worried after she called her boyfriend’s phone at 6.30pm on Friday.
Instead of speaking to her boyfriend, a differing person picked up the phone . She was told her other half would not be allowed home until he had paid a £50 debt.
A short time later she received a text that said he would be home shortly. But when she spoke to him again shortly afterwards the boyfriend said he was being held against his will.
The incident was reported to police and extensive enquiries were conducted to find him.
This included house-to -house enquiries, checking of CCTV footage and analysis of mobile telephone calls.
A number of houses in Bolton were searched before police found the man at a different house nearby.
Detective Inspector Jo Clawson, said: “The man’s girlfriend was absolutely beside herself with worry and genuinely concerned that he would come to harm.
“Rightfully, based on what she knew at the time, the matter was reported to police.
“Considerable resources and time then went into finding this man, who it transpires made the entire thing up so he could stay out and party.
“This is without doubt one of the most foolish and irresponsible incidents I have been involved in.
“Significant resources were taken off the front line on a Friday night, which is without exception, one of the busiest times of the week.
“He is fortunate not to have been charged, but to put together a file of evidence and put him through the court system would incur even more cost to the taxpayer.
“We feel we have wasted enough time and resources on him already and not only has he been fined, this matter will be recorded as a criminal conviction on his record.”