HONG KONG - A viral video purportedly showing a young woman in distress, which even prompted a police investigation, has attracted online brickbats after it was revealed to be an elaborate guerilla marketing campaign for an upcoming Hong Kong movie, reported the local media.
In the self-recorded iPhone video posted on video-sharing website YouTube last Saturday, the young woman appears to be lying on the floor crying, visibly in distress and fearful for her life.
"I don't know what to do. My friends are all deadÂ… I am sorry, Mother, I don't know if I can see you again," she says.
A male voiceover says: "I picked up this iPhone 5 and wanted to sell it, but then I found this video. I don't know what I should do. Any advice, netizens?"
The video had amassed more than 146,000 views as of Monday night. The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that it was also uploaded on Facebook and discussion forum GoldenHK.
Thinking it was a real call for help, a concerned viewer notified the police, who traced the video to a residence in Wong Tai Sin district in Hong Kong, where the woman - 23-year-old model Katie Hui Sum Yuet - was found alive and well.
She was taken to the police station for questioning, along with the film's director, who was later identified as the poster of the video, Hong Kong's The Sun newspaper reported on Monday.
The SCMP reported that they were released after telling the police the video was part of a marketing campaign for upcoming movie Seven Things To Do Before Death.
Ms Hui wrote on Facebook on Sunday morning: "Don't have to worry, everyone. I'm not dead. I am totally safe."
She also apologised to her family members, friends and netizens, Hong Kong's The Standard daily reported, and said she "was just doing what an actress should do".
However, enraged netizens slammed Ms Hui and the director for "going overboard with the joke", "wasting police time" and "crying wolf".
A lawyer suggested the hoax could be classified as access to a computer with criminal or dishonest intent, a source told The Standard.