The boy, a resident of suburban Sakinaka, and his 19-year-old friend were apprehended by a team of Mumbai Crime Branch sleuths from a lodge in Manor in adjoining Palghar district last evening, a police official said.
The relatives of the 16-year-old boy had lodged a police complaint, saying he has been kidnapped from Sakinaka and Rs 50 lakh has been demanded for his release, he said.
During investigation, it was found that the boy's father, who works at a warehouse in Talasari of Palghar district, also had received a phone call from an unidentified number, asking him to pay Rs 50 lakh for the release of his son, the official said.
The boy's father was told to come to a spot in Manor with the ransom money and was warned against informing the police, he said.
Deeming it to be a case of serious nature, the Crime Branch initiated a parallel investigation, during which, based on mobile tower location, the caller was traced to a lodge in Manor.
However, during questioning, it was revealed that the 19-year-old man was actually a friend who assisted the boy in "staging his own kidnapping" to get Rs 50 lakh from his father, the DCP said.
The boy told the Crime Branch sleuths that he had enacted the whole kidnapping drama to help his girlfriend, a resident of Palghar, whose family was facing financial crisis, another official said.
The duo was later handed over to Sakinaka police for further investigation, a police official said.