SAN DIEDO -- An email from federal officials announcing a crackdown on San Diego pharmacies for allegedly illegal drug sales was a hoax, the U.S. attorney's office said Tuesday.

"This hoax is causing the distraction, diversion of resources that we have designated to real investigations," said U. S. Attorney Laura Duffy.

The announcement was formatted to look like it came from the U.S. Attorney's Office. The Los Angeles Times and several other news organizations reported the "crackdown."

The San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, released a statement taking credit for the email. The group said it was part of a series of satirical news releases meant to draw attention to U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy's crackdown on medical marijuana outlets.

The forged email said that Duffy was cracking down on pharmacies in La Jolla, Carmel Valley and Pacific Beach because of "the high rates of pharmaceutical drug abuse and high property values of targeted pharmacies." Duffy was giving the pharmacies, which were not named, 45 days to shut down or they would face harsher penalties, the hoax email said. The group also posted phony notices at area pharmacies.

"I think they're morons," said CVS pharmacy customer Jane Lane.  "I think they're stupid to do something like that."

Lane's pharmacy was one of the 20 that had forged notices posted, allegedly from Duffy's office, stating the pharmacy was violating federal law.

ASA spokesman Eugene Davidovich was not apologetic about the stunt.

"Just as the closure of retail pharmacies, like CVS or Walgreens, is poor bublic health policy, so is the federal government's crackdown on medical cannabis dispensaries," Davidovich said in the statement.