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Duped: AP Falls for Hoax Press Release Claiming GE Will Repay Tax Refund

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"Obviously" reads like a hoax.

It's like April Fool's, only two weeks later.

That Associated Press has had to retract a story on GE repaying all of its 2010 tax refund after it was determined the press release it based its story on was a hoax.

Here is the original story that the AP put out on the wire:

Facing criticism over the amount of taxes it pays, General Electric announced it will repay its entire $3.2 billion tax refund to the US Treasury on April 18.

GE uses a series of foreign tax havens that the company says are legal and that led to an enormous refund for the 2010 tax year.

The company earned $11 billion in 2010 on revenue of $150 billion.

The company, based in Fairfield, Conn., plans to phase out tax havens over 5 years and said it will create one job in the US for each new job it creates overseas.

Here is what has now replaced it:

The fake press release was titled, "GE Responds to Public Outcry – Will Donate Entire $3.2 Billion Tax Refund to Help Offset Cuts and Save American Jobs." And while initially this looks really bad for the AP, Business Insider explains how it happened:

The fake press release [...] was posted at a site called http://www.genewscenters.com/. It's a pretty sophisticated fake, since genewscenters.com is just one letter off from genewscenter.com, where GE actually hosts its news.

And it is. Here's a copy of real GE press release:

And this is the fake:

Still, BI says the AP isn't completely off the hook given that the fake "obviously" reads like a hoax, including "comments in there about new policies about creating one American job for every one created abroad."

GE has not put out a press release about the incident. If it does, we'll make sure it's real before posting it.

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