A young Chinese man kidnapped and held himself for ransom to see if his father would make an attempt to rescue him.
The 18-year-old college student, identified only as Zhu, decided to kidnap himself and send his family a threatening ransom note via text in an effort to test their willingness to save him.
He then filmed himself being bound, gagged and beaten before sending that video to his family, according to the Daily Mail.
Zhu's "kidnappers" demanded roughly $14,800, to be paid to them as ransom within the hour after receiving the message. Otherwise, they threatened, Zhu's organs would be harvested and sold.
"Only 27 minutes left," read one of the texts. "Your son’s organs are worth more than [$14,800]. We just want money."
Zhu's family promptly called the police to investigate their son's disappearance.
The police found that Zhu had checked into a hotel in Taizhou in China's eastern Jiangsu province several days earlier and had not yet checked out. Upon entering the room, investigators found it to be in disarray with no sign of Zhu.
Police believed the kidnappers had taken Zhu to a different location, so they began searching other parts of the hotel and the surrounding areas, according to Study International.
Later that evening, police discovered Zhu had returned to the hotel without apparent signs of illness or distress.
When pressed for information on the kidnapping, he admitted it was all a "joke" and was staged.
He later told police he felt "unloved" by his father and used this ruse as a test to see if he would rescue him. The kidnappers that could be seen in the video binding and pouring water over Zhu's head were accomplices.
It was later reported that Zhu, who had left home for a larger city in search of a summer job, had run out of money during his travels. It was not immediately clear if money was a motivating factor for the fake kidnapping.
Zhu's family had readied themselves to hand over the money to the purported kidnappers, reported the Daily Mail. Zhu's grandmother was reportedly overcome with shock after hearing the news of her grandson's kidnapping and was taken to a local hospital.
Zhu says he realizes the gravity of his actions and intends to apologize to his family for the ordeal.
Police charged him with suspicion of blackmailing and extortion. The other two accomplices involved were also charged.