Germany, you’ve been Punk’d!

You've been punked!!!

You've been punked!!!

How German filmmakers hijacked part of California, stole its identity, and used it to scam an entire country.

I think I've finally figured out the origin of the expression, "If you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you": Bluewater, California.

The "bridge" to which I refer crosses the Colorado River, and connects Bluewater, California with its sister-city, Bluewater, Arizona. According to the city's web site, downtown Bluewater offers a range of bars and restaurants where you can dine on seafood fished from local waters, get locally-grown produce from the Farmer's Market every Wednesday and Saturday, and enjoy summer poetry in the park.

Imagine the shock when KVPK7, Bluewater's own local news channel reported that the tiny city had become the target of an attempted suicide bombing by a German rap group known as “Berlin Boys”? Who on earth could conceive of such an event hitting a small town in America?  Only Hollywood. Or, in this case, a group promoting the German film, "Short Cut to Hollywood."

The group, according to Wired, set up fake web sites for the "city" (actually, an unincorporated, and largely uninhabited, part of San Bernardino County, CA), the news station, and even a Wikipedia page further authenticating the fictitious news station. They simulated news footage, and even posted local Skype phone numbers on the fictitious web sites. After receiving a tip, journalists in Germany found the fake city web site, and used the phone numbers listed to confirm the tip and interview city officials. Those numbers, of course, went right back to the pranksters in Germany. From there, the story spread through the German press.

The hoax might have lasted longer had news agencies, hungry for additional information, not called the superseding county, San Bernardino, for comment.

Think it couldn't happen here? Well, it practically did. If a handful of German artists who know how to write web pages can fool the entire German press, it certainly doesn't bode well for the common folk who rely on them. And, if part of  California can have its identity stolen, that doesn't bode well for the rest of us either. Just imagine what could have happened if the state still had its credit rating.

By the way, anyone know the German translation for "Punk'd"?

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About Jeff M. Fischbach

http://www.twitter.com/FischTech Jeff Michael Fischbach is founder and President of SecondWave Information Systems (SecondWave.com), a consulting firm specializing in Forensic Technology. Since 1994, he has served as a board member and technology adviser to numerous professional organizations and corporations. Mr. Fischbach has been engaged as a litigation consultant and Forensic Examiner, offering expert advice and oversight on matters involving intellectual property, computers, information systems, satellite, tracking and wireless communications technologies. He has advised law enforcement, foreign government representatives, judges, lawyers and the press.
Comments (4) Trackbacks (0)
  1. English to German translation: to play a prank on– einen Streich zu spielen (Streich is the word for prank. No translation found for “punked”.)


  2. Most likely you would say “verarscht” in Germany.

  3. Thanks for the German lesson, Andre'. It's pretty hard to get “slang” out of an online dictionary. It's always very cool to learn something new in a language.

  4. Thanks for the German lesson, Andre'. It's pretty hard to get “slang” out of an online dictionary. It's always very cool to learn something new in a language.

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