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11-year-old arrested, accused of staging abduction for YouTube prank

The girl told dispatchers that a man driving a white van on a Florida interstate abducted her friend at gunpoint.
11-year-old arrested, accused of staging abduction for YouTube prank
Posted at 8:15 AM, Jul 27, 2023

An 11-year-old Florida girl was arrested Wednesday after authorities say she falsely reported that her friend had been abducted. The stunt was part of a YouTube challenge, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said. 

The sheriff's office said the girl texted 911 to say that her friend was kidnapped by an armed male driving a white van down Interstate 95 near Oak Hill, Florida. The girl said she was in a blue Jeep following her 14-year-old friend. 

As she was providing updates, deputies were directed to a home in Port Orange, Florida. The sheriff's office said they talked to the 11-year-old's father, who said his daughter was inside the home. 

As deputies approached the girl, her phone was ringing as she was being called by dispatchers. 

SEE MORE: Teachers blast social media's effects on children

The sheriff's office said the girl told them she reported the kidnapping as part of a YouTube challenge and told them she thought it "would be funny."

In a statement, Sheriff Mike Chitwood decried the social media challenge. 

“This kind of prank activity is dangerous — we’re going to investigate every incident but today it wasted valuable resources that might have helped someone else who legitimately needed our help," he said. 

The sheriff's office said the girl was charged with making a false police report concerning the use of a firearm in a violent manner, which is a felony, and misuse of 911, which is a misdemeanor. 

The minimum age to prosecute a minor in Florida is 7. About half of U.S. states have a minimum age to prosecute someone, according to the National Juvenile Justice Network. Of the states that have a minimum age, Florida's is the lowest. Other states' minimum age ranges from 8 to 13. 

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