10 Crazy Hoaxes That Duped the World

Balloon Boy
Little Falcon Heene let the cat out of the bag about his parents' hoax. Matt McClain/Getty Images News/Getty Images

On Oct. 15, 2009, the world was riveted as images of a giant, homemade weather balloon floating through the skies -- presumably with a 6-year-old boy huddled inside -- flashed across their TV screens. Parents Richard and Mayumi Heene tearfully told authorities they'd created the silver, saucerlike helium balloon, launched it from their home in Fort Collins, Colo., then noticed their son, Falcon, was missing. They searched their home, calling out for him everywhere, and realized with a sinking feeling that Falcon may have climbed inside the balloon's compartment when they weren't looking.

For 50 minutes, the balloon -- which intriguingly resembled a UFO -- floated around the Colorado skies while authorities frantically tracked it in an effort to get Falcon safely back on terra firma. The Federal Aviation Administration even suspended some departures from Denver International Airport during the debacle [source: Hughes and Bazar].

The balloon eventually landed, but Falcon wasn't inside after all. He was later discovered hiding in the family's attic. A media frenzy surrounded the Heenes, but only until their hoax was discovered, thanks to the honesty of little Falcon. Falcon and his parents were on CNN's "Larry King Live" when Falcon said the reason he didn't come out from his hiding spot in the attic when his parents were looking for him was because his parents had told him not to. The family, which had previously appeared on the reality show "Wife Swap," had devised the balloon incident in the hopes it would interest TV producers in creating a reality show about them [source: CNN].

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