Three New York college students whose claim they were victims of a racial attack on a bus drew national attention have been charged with making it up.

Ariel Agudio, Asha Burwell and Alexis Briggs, all aged 20, were indicted by a grand jury on charges of falsely reporting an incident.

They were also charged with third-degree assault and attempting to assault passengers during the confrontation on a night bus in Albany on 30 January.

The three claimed they had been assaulted and harassed by as many as a dozen white men and women.

Capital District Transportation Authority bus CCTV

CCTV shows the fight on the bus

But the indictment says CCTV from the Capital District Transportation Authority bus and witness accounts show it was the three women who were the aggressors.

Investigators have also said no one used racial epithets against the women as they had claimed.

University Police Chief Frank Wiley said in February the only person heard uttering racial epithets was one of the defendants.

Ariel Aguido, Alexis Briggs and Asha Burwell (L-R)

Ariel Aguido, Alexis Briggs and Asha Burwell (L-R)

The trio’s allegation triggered protests at the State University of New York at Albany.

College President Robert Jones said in a letter to students and faculty he was “deeply concerned, saddened and angry about this incident”.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted about it, writing: “There’s no excuse for racism and violence on a college campus”.

Capital District Transportation Authority bus CCTV

‘It was a racial crime,’ one of the defendants claimed in a 911 call

The hashtag #DefendBlackGirlsUAlbany began to trend on social media.

One of the three defendants could be heard in a 911 call obtained by the Albany Times Union newspaper after the fight on the bus.

“Me and my three friends got jumped,” she said. “It was a racial crime, they were calling us n***** and all this stuff.

“And if someone doesn’t come and take this down, or something, I’m going to call the news.”