The Litecoin cryptocurrency saw its price spike by as much as 20 percent on Monday after a fake press release claimed Walmart would begin accepting Litecoin as payment.
The press release posted to GlobeNewswire linked to a non-functioning website, and there was no evidence of any Securities and Exchange Commission filing, which would have been expected since Walmart is publicly traded. Walmart’s official newsroom never included the release, and the company typically uses Business Wire to distribute releases.
Dave Pleiss, vice president, investor and public relations for GlobeNewswire said in an email to The Verge that this has never happened to the company before.
“When GlobeNewswire became aware this morning that a fraudulent user account was used to issue an illegitimate press release we promptly withdrew the press release and issued a Notice to Disregard.” Pleiss wrote.
The company has already put into place “enhanced authentication steps to prevent this isolated incident from occurring in the future,” Pleiss added, and said GlobeNewswire was working with authorities on “a full investigation, including into any criminal activity associated with this matter.”
Several news outlets published reports based on the hoax press release, and a short time later Litecoin’s price jumped, along with those of other cryptocurrencies, before quickly falling back to the previous levels.
It’s not yet clear who may have been behind the hoax press release, but a Walmart spokesperson confirmed to CNBC that the news announcement was fake. Walmart didn’t reply to a request for comment from The Verge on Monday.
Update: September 13th 4:50PM ET: Adds comment from GlobeNewswire spokesperson.