OMAHA, NE: GlobeNewswire parent Intrado said it is investigating how a fraudulent press release that said Walmart would accept Litecoin cryptocurrency as payments from shoppers starting at the beginning of next month was distributed.
After the fake press release was picked up by business media outlets and was tweeted by Litecoin, the price of the cryptocurrency fluctuated wildly on Monday.
GlobeNewswire sent out the release at 9:30 a.m. EST, but later removed it. The distribution service issued a notice on Monday confirming that journalists and other readers should disregard the news release and said that a fraudulent user account issued the statement.
The Intrado statement explains that GlobeNewswire promptly withdrew the press release and issued a notice to disregard as soon as it became aware on Monday morning that a fraudulent user account was used to issue the illegitimate news.
“This has never happened before and we have already put in place enhanced authentication steps to prevent this isolated incident from occurring in the future,” Intrado added. “We will work with the appropriate authorities to request, and facilitate, a full investigation, including into any criminal activity associated with this matter.”
Dave Pleiss, VP of IR and PR at GlobeNewswire parent Intrado, declined to comment further.
Private equity firm Apollo Global Management has a controlling interest in Intrado. A representative from Apollo was not immediately available for comment.
The two companies mentioned in the fraudulent press release, Litecoin and Walmart, have also been working to correct the record.
Litecoin tweeted the fake press release on Monday, then deleted it. It then shared a statement on Twitter calling the release “false news.”
An official statement regarding today's false news - Charlie Lee will be live on Bloomberg today at 2pm PST addressing the subject. pic.twitter.com/x7z7NZ02nZ— Litecoin Foundation (@LTCFoundation) September 13, 2021
Appearing on the Bloomberg Technology TV program on Monday afternoon, Litecoin creator and MD of the foundation Charlie Lee said, “We try our best to not tweet fake news and this time we really screwed up. I deny that it has anything to do with us, and we’ll try our best to figure out who did it, and we will stop fake news from spreading.”
“Obviously, we were as surprised as everyone, but it was clearly fake as both Walmart and us immediately responded as such,” Litecoin Foundation director of marketing Jay Miller told PRWeek. “Hopefully this isn't the start of other fake releases going out on the wire.”
The fake release, which purported to quote Walmart CEO Doug McMillion, was never posted on Walmart’s corporate website, but the retailer issued a statement making clear that it was not authorized.
“Walmart had no knowledge of the press release issued by GlobeNewswire, and it is incorrect,” the statement said. “Walmart has no relationship with Litecoin.”
Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove also has been confirming to media outlets that the press release was not authentic. The retailer, he added, has been in touch with the newswire company to investigate how this happened.
A Walmart spokesperson said it could not comment beyond the statement.