GE: Tax refund press release is a 'hoax'

By Aaron Smith, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- General Electric dismissed as a hoax a Wednesday press release that claimed the company has a multi-billion dollar tax refund that it will be giving back to the U.S. Treasury.

"It's a hoax," said GE spokeswoman Barbara Butler. "That's not our press release."

Butler was referring to a fake press release bearing the GE logo and font that said the company "will be gifting its entire 2010 tax refund, worth $3.2 billion, to the U.S. Treasury."

GE (GE, Fortune 500) did not actually receive a tax refund, though there has been confusion about that since the New York Times reported a story on GE's taxes on March 25.

The press release appeared on a website with a URL that was almost, but not quite, identical to the URL used by GE for its official press releases. It named "Samuel Winnacker" as a spokesman for the company, with an e-mail address and Nashville-area phone number. GE is based in Fairfield, Conn.

The release drew attention when the Associated Press ran a story based on it. It later killed the story, which was picked up by numerous websites, when GE called the release a hoax, according to the news service's own website.

"The AP did not follow its own standards," AP spokesman Paul Colford said in an e-mail statement.

CNNMoney's e-mail to the spokesman in the release bounced back as undeliverable. But someone calling himself Andrew Boyd picked up the phone when CNNMoney called.

Boyd said the press release was a prank done by U.S. Uncut in association with the Yes Lab and that it was "an effort founded by the Yes Men," a group that's critical of large corporations.

"For a short while today, a lot of Americans believed that corporate America did something good for a change," said Boyd.

He said the purpose of the prank was "to show that corporate American can do the right thing" and "to force GE to deny that they're doing the right thing."

This isn't the first prank tied to the Yes Men, who are also believed to have been behind press releases falsely attributed to Chevron Corp. (CVX, Fortune 500) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,987.51 -61.49 -0.36%
Nasdaq 4,567.60 -24.21 -0.53%
S&P 500 1,985.54 -11.91 -0.60%
Treasuries 2.61 0.08 3.28%
Data as of 6:02am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.79 0.22 1.33%
Microsoft Corp 46.70 -0.30 -0.65%
Cisco Systems Inc 25.16 -0.02 -0.08%
Intel Corp 34.62 -0.40 -1.14%
Regions Financial Co... 10.35 0.07 0.68%
Data as of Sep 12

Sections

Uber isn't going head-to-head with FexEx, but it is claiming a piece of the delivery market. More

It's game time for the Fed this week, and investors are trying to read its playbook on interest rate hikes. More

Atlanta has the country's highest level of income inequality, but civic entrepreneurs can close the gap. Here's how. More

An extended time off from work can give you renewed energy for the job you have or give you time to figure out what you really want to do. Here are 8 lessons learned. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.