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GE hoax put focus on U.S. corporate tax dodgers

gelogo041611_optBY BOB HOLT
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

The activist group US Uncut claims the Government Accountability Office is reporting that 83 of the top 100 US companies use tax havens to dodge taxes. They say that corporate tax cheats are bankrupting America.

General Electric has become the latest target of the Yes Men, a group which intends to humiliate corporations by posing as their leaders.

The Yes Men helped US Uncut send a phony press release to media outlets on Wednesday that said GE was giving a $3.2 billion tax refund back to the US Treasury. At least two news outlets, the Associated Press and Dow Jones, fell for the prank and briefly posted stories. GE’s stock, which dropped 14 cents a share after those stories, but began to recover after the AP retracted the story.

US Uncut is a decentralized grassroots movement organized through social media that claims to connect corporate tax cheats to public service cuts. They are planning a weekend of nearly 100 Tax Day actions between April 15th and April 18th, according to usuncut.org.

CBS News reported the hoax press release included a contact phone number for "Samuel Winnacker," listed as a communications representative with GE. The first time CBS News called the number, the call went to voicemail with this recording: "Hey, you've reached Andrew and his prone to fail but nonetheless handy-dandy iPhone."

The second time, they received a recording of a computerized-sounding British woman's voice claiming that the caller had reached GE media - which was closed.

Then someone called back claiming to be "Samuel Winnacker," claiming the press release was "very real."

The hoax played on recent criticism of GE over reports that it did not pay US income takes last year despite taking in billions of dollars of net profit.

A real GE spokeswoman, Ann Eisele, told Yahoo News that GE did not receive a refund.

Gene Grabowski, senior vice president at Levick Strategic Communications in Washington, believes the GE hoax isn’t likely to have any lasting effect on business.



 

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