The Branch County Sheriff's Department in Michigan mistakenly used a spoof in a news release and the local media bought it, reporting al Qaida representatives were doing telemarketing to the elderly. The Battle Creek Enquirer in Michigan reports the news release was an attempt to warn the public about actual fraudulent telemarketing schemes operating in the area. Detective Dan Nichols wrote it and inserted excerpts from the Sept. 18 edition of The Onion, a publication that carried a spoof about al Qaida telemarketers. "The CIA has announced that they acquired a videotape showing al Qaida members making phone solicitations for vacation home rentals, long distance telephone service, magazine subscriptions and other products," read the Branch County release, which used by at least one local media outlet. Nichols says he didn't know The Onion was a humor publication.
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