Just as Verizon Wireless announced Thursday launch of Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Play handset in the US, the New Zealand branch of the big red carrier tweeted Monday that the entire shipment headed to that country had been stolen.

Regret to advise the Xperia Play launch will be delayed. Major security breach. The shipment of phones has been stolen.

Turned out that was just a clumsy marketing gimmick that had cleverly exploited the whole Sony-versus-hackers brouhaha in an effort to drum up publicity ahead of the Xperia Play launch in New Zealand. To make the whole thing appear realistic, the carrier even released security footage, allegedly from the Vodafone store, seen above. They were “investigating” the theft, per thisĀ tweet:

Our fraud team are investigating the stolen Xperia Play phones and have released footage of the break-in. Can you help?

Needless to say, it opened a can of whoop ass… expand full story