Bogus announcement of Walmart crypto rollout sends Litecoin soaring – New York Post

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Cryptocurrency Litecoin briefly spiked more than 25 percent after a fake press release that duped much of the financial media claimed Walmart — the country’s biggest retailer — planned to let customers pay online with the crypto beginning next month.
Much of the financial press, including CNBC and Reuters, ran with the release, which was not posted by any official accounts run by Walmart.
Randy Hargrove, a Walmart spokesman, confirmed to The Post that the release was not legitimate.
“Walmart was the subject of a fake news release issued on Monday, Sept. 13, that falsely stated Walmart announced a partnership with Litecoin (LTC),” the company said later Monday in a statement. “Walmart had no knowledge of the press release issued by GlobeNewswire, and it is incorrect. Walmart has no relationship with Litecoin.”
The release was sent on GlobeNewswire, a Los Angeles-based company that provides press release distribution services, by an account that had never previously published a press release.
GlobeNewswire published a statement shortly after 11 a.m. ET, saying that “journalists and other readers should disregard the news release.”
At one point, a verified Twitter account for Litecoin tweeted the fraudulent release in a since-deleted post.
“A fake press release, which looked to be official, was sent out this morning across Global Newswire. It is not our policy to release a partnership in such a way,” the Litecoin Foundation said in a statement on Twitter later Monday. “Several media outlets, including Reuters, did cover the story first, and in response one of our social media team members was a little too eager and shared the story from the Litecoin Twitter account. This was quickly deleted and we have taken steps to correct future issues.”
Stoking suspicion of the original release was the fact that the release boldly included quotes purportedly from Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, who’s rarely quoted in official company announcements. Additionally, the release listed Walmart chief marketing officer William White as a point of contact for the release, but the company historically lists members of the communications team in that spot.
The email listed in the press release, william.white@walmart-corp.com, returned an “Address not found” message. The actual William White, who is Walmart’s Chief Marketing Officer, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The price of Litecoin soared more than 25 percent after the announcement to just under $234 per coin, according to data from CoinDesk.
By 10:30 a.m., after most news organizations that published stories based on the release had corrected their articles, the price of Litecoin had plummeted back down to $179 per coin.
Litecoin is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that prioritizes quick, low-cost payments. Launched in 2011, it was an early so-called altcoin, or Bitcoin alternative
Representatives for GlobalNewswire did not immediately return The Post’s request for comment.
Representatives for the Litecoin Foundation also did not immediately provide comment.
Many on Twitter criticized the news organizations that re-published the press release for failing to verify its authenticity before running with it.
Neeraj K. Agrawal, a crypto expert at non-profit group the Coin Center, said news outlets dropped the ball.
“The press release fell apart immediately,” Agrawal told The Post, saying journalists with a “working knowledge of cryptocurrency” should’ve realized the hoax from the get-go.
Agrawal, who has also worked for venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz and crypto exchange Coinbase, added that he believed the hoax was part of a pump-and-dump scheme by a random cypto user.
“I would be surprised if it was any sort of official or well-known representative of Litecoin,” he said. “It was probably somebody who is a random holder of Litecoin.”
It’s still unclear who’s responsible for the fake release.
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