The authorities in Singapore have opened a criminal investigation into the Dutch electronics group, Philips, over a marketing campaign.
A fuzzy video released on social media sites suggested a wild bear was roaming a residential neighbourhood.
Some viewers realized it was a stunt, but zoo officials with a tranquilizer gun searched for the animal.
Philips has apologized for what was, in fact, a human in a bear costume, filmed rummaging through rubbish bins.
Police, animal rights activists and zoo workers scoured the area after the video emerged.
Police later said they were investigating Philips for "an offence of public nuisance under section 268 of the penal code".
If found guilty, Philips faces a fine of S$1,000 ($767, £483).
Philips' public relations agency issued a statement on the incident: "We acknowledge that the resemblance of the mascot to a live bear has caused some public concern in the neighbourhood where the mascot was sighted.
"We had anticipated the attention that the bear will draw but have no intention to cause any alarm. We would like to apologize for any concern caused."
Reports suggest that the search for the non-existent bear involved 12 people from Singapore's Wildlife Reserves staff, three people from an animal protection group, Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), and several police.
The Straits Times newspaper's citizen journalism website Stomp received the hoax video.
It reported that residents around Ulu Pandan Road, where the video was shot, had been nervous, fearing a wild bear was on the loose.
"We're just glad that even though there's a lot of time and resources wasted, that there's no bear on the loose," an Acres spokesperson said.