Sacha Baron Cohen tried to prank me. Here’s how I knew it was a scam.

For us, the incoming email invitation was pretty standard. (The full email chain is included below.) The short pitch from Ashley Winthrop, calling herself a producer with Yerushalayim Television, was a familiar mix of producer’s flattery and information. She was happy to inform us Michael Grimm had been “chosen as one of Israel’s ‘70 at 70’ for his strong support of the state of Israel.” Her production company would air the feature on DBS, the largest TV provider in Israel, she said. She invited my client to sit with a film crew in Washington, D.C., to talk about U.S.-Israel affairs…

Of course, DBS vets: With 600,000 subscribers, it’s Israel’s only direct broadcast satellite television provider. But which news channel which would air the story? It’s just as strange as an American TV news producer saying their piece would air on Direct TV.

This awkward reference sent a researcher to Google, where we discovered what appeared to be a rudimentary Yerushalayim Television web site. Winthrop also had a LinkedIn profile and a few possible Twitter handles, but not much beyond that. Things were smelling fishier and fishier. I grew skeptical, and made a few excuses to rebuff her.

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