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Police: Gunpoint abduction of man, woman may be birthday hoax

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Police are investigating whether what seemed like the abduction of a man and woman seen forced into a minivan at gunpoint in Manhattan Friday was a hoax staged by friends, authorities said.

Police released footage captured by a surveillance camera showing the man and woman walking down the street near Haven Avenue and West 173rd Street in Washington Heights at about 7 p.m. The video shows two people running after them, followed by a dark minivan. The minivan goes out of the frame and is then seen speeding in the opposite direction, presumably with the man and woman inside.

Witnesses told police they heard a woman scream in the vicinity; others said they saw the man and woman being forced into the minivan at gunpoint, authorities said.

But Paul Browne, chief NYPD spokesman, told NBC 4 New York the incident may not be nearly as sinister as the surveillance video suggested. Brown said Monday that what looked like an abduction "may have been a hoax staged among friends to celebrate one of their birthdays."

Police also confirmed the parties involved are known to each other.

The investigation is ongoing.

-- By NBCNewYork.com