A wire story sent out by the Associated Press claimed that GE, shamed by criticism of the company’s tax break, would be donating $3.2 billion to the Treasury Department.
Thirty minutes after the story went out on the wires, the AP sent out a second statement retracting the story. It had all been a hoax A grassroots organization called U.S. Uncut and the Yes Lab, a group of pranksters best known for pretending to be members of the Chambers of Commerce, took credit for sending out a fake press release.
GE has been criticized heavily ever since the New York Times reported that GE paid no taxes in 2010 — a statement GE denies.
The fake press release said, “Over the coming weeks, GE will conduct a nationwide survey to determine how the company's $3.2 billion returned refund is to be allocated. The survey will be conducted both online and offline, and will permit the public to weigh in on which of the recently-enacted budget cuts they would like to see reversed.”
It also included falsified quotes from GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt that said GE would shut down their overseas tax havens and start to create one American job for each new job created abroad.
After the AP news story ran, GE shares slipped and the company had to issue a statement denying the news.
The Yes Men have operated for more than a decade using fake press releases, impersonating reporters and, once, publishing thousands of false “New York Times” that only reported good news. They group has also set up a Web site called the Yes Lab, which states it trains activists seeking to use similar “media-getting creative actions.” The Yes Men’s spokesman told CBS News that U.S. Uncut had been trained through the program.