US & Canada

US man accused of faking own kidnapping to avoid Super Bowl bet

Robert Brandel mugshot Image copyright New York State Police
Image caption Robert Brandel was found with his hands and feet tied up with duct tape

A US man has been accused of staging his own "elaborate" kidnapping to avoid paying out lost Super Bowl bets.

Robert Brandel, 60, was found tied up in his truck near Buffalo in New York state on Wednesday.

He told officers he had been abducted by two armed men two days earlier - but police were suspicious that he appeared to be clean-shaven and calm.

Officials now believe he was trying to get out of paying $50,000 (£37,740) he owes following an online group bet.

He faces charges of fraud and filing a false police report.

According to Mr Brandel's version of events, he went to pick up the two men in his truck on Monday because they were involved in a Super Bowl Squares bet with him - an online bet that sees participants enter possible scores into a grid.

Mr Brandel said the men threatened him with a gun, stole $16,000 in cash and forced him to drive them around the western part of New York state for two days before tying him up and leaving him in a car park.

New York State Police soon became dubious about his account.

"Further investigation and interviews revealed that this elaborate story was fabricated," they said in a statement.

They added that Mr Brandel had made up some of the names in his Super Bowl Square in an attempt to take home most of the winnings himself - but had instead fallen far short.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Super Bowl was won by the New England Patriots

Officer James O'Callaghan told local station WKBW, an ABC affiliate, that they became suspicious because Mr Brandel was clean-shaven "around his beard" and calm when they found him, despite it apparently being the third day of his abduction.

"A normal person that's been abducted and has gone through something like that, their heart rate would be very high, they're worried, depressed, a lot of emotions that will be bubbling up," he added.

Mr Brandel is due to appear in court later this month.

The Super Bowl is a major American football tournament and was this year won by the New England Patriots.

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