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US Uncut Gets AP to Run Story on GE's Supposed $3.2B Gift to America

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, April 13 2011

US Uncut, the burgeoning "grassroots movement taking direct action against corporate tax cheats and unnecessary and unfair public service cuts" has pulled off a real doozy.

Rather incredibly, the AP and several publications fell for a hoax email this morning that announced GE's plans to mark tax day by sending $3.2 billion to the U.S. Treasury because the company felt bad about not paying federal taxes. Stories were run conveying the news of the release, which noted GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt explaining, "we want the public to know that we’ve heard them, and that we know many Americans are going through tough times. GE will therefore give our 2010 tax refund back to the public and allow the public to decide how to spend it."

Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal notes that part of the scam involved setting up a website just one letter off from GE's official PR hub -- GENewsCenters.com, rather than GENewsCenter.com. Good thing they took such care, because these were clearly reporters with a real eye for detail.

The fake GE site is down at the moment. US Uncut rep reports that "word is that it got too much traffic and zapped the server," but notes that you can follow along on Twitter.

US Uncut seems to have teamed up with the Yes Man-affiliated Yes Labs to pull off the stunt. You might remember them from the time back in 2008 when they distributed a fake edition of the New York Times that announced the end to the Iraq war.

US Uncut was inspired by a similar group in the UK.

MarketWatch reports that the "news" of the supposed gift correlated with a drop in GE's stock price that "briefly trim[med] GE’s market capitalization by nearly $3.5 billion."