This story is true, and I can't prove it because the friend who told it to me made me swear on a dozen gods and goddesses that I wouldn't give away his identity. You'll just have to take my word for it.
A local friend, whom I'll call Jack for convenience, is an aspiring actor. There aren't many opportunities for such in Phoenix, so he checks in with his agent every day, and also reads the "Entertainment and Arts" ads in all the papers.
A few months ago he saw an ad for "Actors Wanted: Street Theater", with a phone number. He called, of course, and was directed to a particular address early in the morning on a particular date. Of course he showed up, and found several other aspiring actors waiting there too. A secretary came out with a clipboard, passed it around, and collected everybody's names and Social Security numbers.
Then a man in a dapper suit came out and explained that their roles were to be "a satire on Neo-Nazis". He steered them into a large room furnished only with racks of clothes and picket-signs with badly-spelled slogans. As ordered, the actors put on the costumes and picked up the signs. The clothes, of course, were scruffy and ragged but decorated with Nazi symbols. The picket-signs, Jack noticed, said nasty things about Mexicans, rather than Jews.
Once the actors were costumed and ready, the secretary informed them that they'd be paid when they came back to the office after the "street theater". Then she steered the actors into some windowless panel-trucks. Just before she shut the doors, she warned them to come back to these particular trucks at a given time, and to "stay in character" until the show was over. With that, she closed the truck doors. In a moment, the trucks took off. The actors, left literally in the dark, tried practicing lines on each other until they arrived at their destination. The trucks stopped, the doors opened, and the secretary guided them out to their "position" on a sidewalk which, they recognized, was in the center of town near the city hall. As the secretary positioned them along the sidewalk, the actors noticed that another -- larger -- crowd was gathering near the city hall. Jack took care to get a good look at the truck he'd just come out of, and saw that it was painted dark brown with absolutely no markings on it. The secretary trotted away and vanished, and the trucks drove away, leaving the actors to fend for themselves.
Well, they did their best to look and sound like idiot Nazis. Soon enough, they attracted attention. Various people pulled out cameras and photographed them, and a few people with microphones came up and asked them brief questions. The actors, staying in character, replied as stupidly as possible. Jack noted that some of the questioners wore ID tags from local TV and radio stations, and from local newspapers. He also noticed that the larger crowd, only a few strides away from them, was an anti-illegal-immigration rally. At this point he began to worry about how much of this "theater" was really satire.
After a few hours the political rally began breaking up, and some of its members started glowering at the actors. Jack wondered if they'd come over and start a fight, and was edging toward the street when the trucks pulled up again. The actors climbed back aboard in a hurry, the secretary showed up just in time to close the doors, and the trucks drove away. The actors in the trucks didn't say much this time, possibly thinking over just what their "street theater" had accomplished.
Eventually the trucks let them out at the office building, the secretary guided them up the stairs to the storeroom and told them to put the costumes and props back on their racks, then come into the office to collect their pay. The actors hurriedly did so. Jack saw that, this time, behind the desk stood a burly and glowering security guard. One of the actors tried to complain about the nature of the "street theater", and the security guard growled at him to "just take your pay and quit bothering the lady" -- while he fingered his club suggestively. The actors quickly took their pay and left, scattering as they did so. The pay was pretty good -- $300 apiece for just a few hours' work -- but Jack felt that there was something distinctly wrong with the whole scene.
His suspicions were confirmed when he saw in the papers, the next morning, accounts of "Nazi demonstrators" at the anti-illegal-immigration rally. He was particularly incensed when he read the editorials in the paper and saw them denouncing the anti-illegal-immigration crowd as "nativists" and "bigots". Exceedingly annoyed, Jack went back to that office to confront the "director" and ask just what the hell he'd been doing. When he got to the building, he found that the "office" was locked up and empty. A few phonecalls to the building manager revealed that a "theater company" had hired that office for only the one day, and then moved out.
Now seriously worried, Jack studied various local news programs that had covered the rally, and saw how many pictures they'd taken of the line of actors. Yes, the news reporters had taken the "street theater" seriously. He tried calling the news stations to tell them his side of the story, but got nothing but voice-mail recorders. He tried emailing the papers, but didn't see any of his letters printed in the following days. Apparently the media didn't want their "Nazi' story contaminated by contradictory facts. And apparently that "director" had known his media pretty well. He'd wanted to discredit the legitimate protesters' rally, not to mention their whole movement, and he'd hired some gullible actors to do it.
At that point, Jack decided to relocate to Los Angeles and get an agent there. He told me his tale the night before his departure, simply because he had to tell somebody the truth. We spent some time speculating over just who the "director" was working for, and our best guess was the Democratic National Committee. Any other speculations are welcome.
I also wonder how often this trick has been used elsewhere.