It appears that New York City residents who called the cops on an apparent kidnapping were duped by an elaborate kidnapping hoax staged for a birthday party.
In the Washington Heights neighborhood, a woman apparently screamed as men forced her and a male companion into a minivan Friday night. Witnesses say that the men were lying in wait in the minivan and looked very suspicious, given that they were wearing masks covering their faces in relatively warm weather, reports CNN.
Police were called to the scene, but quickly determined that the kidnapping was not what it seemed.
A surveillance camera caught the entire incident and it certainly looked real. There were masked men, weapons, and a quick get-away. But police determined that it was all a joke staged for friends to celebrate a birthday, reports CNN.
Police announced Monday -- April Fool's Day, no less -- that those behind the hoax have come forward, and there will no charges filed.
The pranksters got off lucky. Similar hoaxes have been known to result in criminal charges, such as for:
Also keep in mind that if a bystander or Good Samaritan intervenes in the hoax and gets injured, you could be sued for the injuries and damages that result. Yet another reason to think twice before pulling off a kidnapping hoax or any other type of joke that has the potential to legally backfire.