The runaway balloon drama that gripped America was a hoax designed to drum up publicity for a reality television series, police confirmed Sunday.

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden told reporters that authorities had been duped by last Thursday's incident, when a home-made helium balloon was feared to have floated away with six-year-old Falcon Heene on board.

Alderden confirmed that he expects officials to file felony charges in the case. He believes the hoax had been planned for at least two weeks in advance.

"It has been determined that this is a hoax, that it was a publicity stunt," Alderen said.

He continued, "We believe that we have evidence at this point to indicate that it was a publicity stunt done with the hopes of marketing themselves or better marketing themselves for a reality television show at some point in the future," explained Alderden.

The sheriff does not expect the three children to face charges and no jail time is anticipated for the parents.

-- With AFP

This video is from CNN's Newsroom, broadcast Oct. 18, 2009.

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