FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The parents of six-year-old "Balloon Boy" -- real name Falcon Heene -- are now under investigation for "contributing to the delinquency of a minor, attempting to influence a public official and providing false information to authorities," Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden says.
In other words, it was all just a hoax.
"It has been a hoax," said Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden. "It was a publicity stunt done with hopes of better maneuvering themselves for a reality TV show... Needless to say they put on a very good show for us and we bought it."
The penalty for such a con job is stiff. Richard Heene and his wife Mayumi now face up to six years in prison and a fine of as much as $500,000 on each of two felony counts. The sheriff's office could also seek restitution for the costs associated with a rescue attempt on Thursday.
According to Silicon Valley's MercuryNews.com, the Larimer County Sheriff's Office is also investigating whether other co-conspirators, including employees of reality TV shows, had prior knowledge of the hoax.
Child protection officials have also been asked to do an investigation to determine whether the couple's three young boys are in danger.