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Police: New York couple's apparent abduction was a hoax

By CNN Staff
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon April 1, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Police: It was a hoax
  • No one has filed a missing persons report

(CNN) -- [Update 8:55 a.m.] An apparent abduction involving a couple in New York City was a hoax, part of a surprise birthday party, New York police said Monday. The people involved came forward and there will be no charges, police said.

[Posted 4:13 a.m.] A woman screams. Men force her and a male companion into a minivan, which speeds away, witnesses say. Police are called.

But was the whole thing, captured on surveillance camera, an elaborately staged hoax?

New York police are beginning to think so.

The department's Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said late Sunday night that the Friday evening abduction in the Washington Heights neighborhood "may have been a hoax staged amongst friends to celebrate one of their birthdays."

Police did not provide additional details. But they did say that no one filed a missing persons report.

In the surveillance footage, a man in a mask races around a corner near a park. A person, who appears to be a man with a plastic bag over his head, follows.

CNN affiliate WABC reported two young girls told police that they saw one of the men point a firearm and force the woman into the vehicle, which sped away.

But police said no one has been reported missing in the area.

Another person told WABC that three men were camped out in the minivan before the incident took place. She said she thought they looked suspicious because it wasn't cold enough for someone to be wearing a mask.

Police put up posters in the area asking for help identifying possible suspects.

CNN's Jason Kessler contributed to this report.

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