Lisbon police said they received multiple panicked emergency calls from witnesses who said they saw masked men force two women into a van. Officers tracked down the van and discovered the women were British tourists celebrating a 40th birthday, The Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday.
Police said they determined the kidnapping was a fake crime staged as part of the birthday celebration. The women were arrested along with the female owner of the company that organized the phony kidnapping and three men involved in the plot.
The British tourists told police they were unaware of the fake kidnapping prior to the incident and it had been organized by some of the nine friends who had traveled with them to Portugal.
The six suspects, who are between the ages of 27 and 40, were charged with criminal simulation. None of their names have been released.