The cryptocurrency Litecoin saw a sudden spike in price on Monday due to a press release about Walmart’s acceptance for payment, which turned out to be false.
The statement, released through a legitimate press channel, stated that Walmart would accept the coin through all of its digital stores. Later, Walmart told the US media that the ad was not “authentic.” By then, several major news websites and news agencies had spread the alleged news. The announcement reached Globe Newswire, a service widely used to distribute company press materials. The fake post has since been removed and did not appear on the Walmart website.
A tweet from a verified Litecoin Twitter account linking to the launch has also been deleted. Hours later, the Litecoin Foundation tweeted that it had no such association. But while being reported as fact, Litecoin’s price jumped from around £ 125 per token to around £ 170, before falling close to its original price, at around £ 128. Globe Newswire said that “a fraudulent user account was used to issue an illegitimate press release. It did not detail exactly what went wrong or who was behind the fake post.
This has never happened before,” the company said in a statement, adding that it was incorporating “enhanced authentication” to prevent it from happening again. But so-called “pump and dump” schemes are not uncommon in the world of cryptocurrencies, where bad actors try to generate publicity around a currency, inflate its price, and quickly sell their own shares before the market corrects. The fake press release suggested that Litecoin would be accepted on all Walmart e-commerce platforms starting October 1.
It contained quotes that appeared to come from both the CEO of Walmart and the founder of Litecoin. One clue to its nature was that a press contact email address pointed to a web domain that had been registered last month. Emails to that address bounced off as undeliverable. The fabrication was unmasked when CNBC contacted Walmart representatives by phone and told them the press release was false. CNBC said it had been among news .
Walmart, the Litecoin Foundation, and Global Newswire have been contacted for comment. The announcement surprised some skeptical observers due to the volatility of cryptocurrency prices, which can be an obstacle to using them for retail purchases. Other companies that have accepted Bitcoin have come up with terms to limit their exposure to large price swings.