A video depicting two people getting kidnapped in New York City's borough of Manhattan may have been a prank. The video went viral over the weekend, and the New York Police Department confirmed the abduction was a hoax.
Gothamist featured the video as a kidnapping caught on camera. The abduction occurred in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, on 173 Street, and was filmed by a surveillance camera nearby. In the video, a man and woman are seen walking; as they go off camera, two individuals run in their direction, with guns drawn, and a minivan follows the pursuit.
The New York Post treated the kidnapping as authentic, occurring on 6:54 p.m. EDT on Friday, and described the woman as carrying two heavy bags that, according to a source, could have contained something illegal. Witnesses were also concerned as they described the masked abductor and the minivan idling before the kidnapping.
The location of the alleged kidnapping was near a housing unit for Columbia University dental students, reports Gothamist.
The New York Times picked up the story on Sunday, as news began to surface that the kidnapping may have been a birthday prank. No missing person reports were filed after the incident and the New York Police Department began investigating the kidnapping. According to Paul J. Browne, spokesman for the NYPD, the abduction “may have been a hoax staged among friends to celebrate one of their birthdays.”
With confusion surrounding the kidnapping, the NYPD was still treating the abduction as real, but further investigating proved the kidnapping was part of a surprise birthday party prank.
The kidnapping turned out to be a birthday hoax that just happened to be caught on camera, reports CNN. Without context, the kidnapping appeared real, and witnesses reported hearing the woman scream as she was forced into the minivan. The NYPD is now reporting that the individuals involved in the prank came forward and told the police that the kidnapping was a hoax and part of a surprise birthday plan. There will be no charges filed stemming from the incident.
Video of the kidnapping prank can be viewed below.