Walmart issued a fake press release claiming it will accept cryptocurrencies
On Monday, the cryptocurrency Litecoin saw a sharp increase in price following a press release claiming that Walmart will accept it as payment – which turned out to be a hoax.
Walmart announced via a press statement distributed through a respectable news outlet that the currency would be accepted in all of its digital stores.
Later, Walmart alerted US media outlets that the announcement was “fake.”
Several major news websites and news agencies had already propagated false information by that time.
The statement was picked up by Globe Newswire, a popular tool for distributing company press releases.
The phony announcement has already been removed from Walmart’s website, and it did not appear on the retailer’s actual website.
A tweet pointing to the release from a verified Litecoin Twitter account was also removed. The Litecoin Foundation then tweeted that it had no such agreement.
However, while this was being reported as true, the price of Litecoin rose from around £125 to close to £170 per token, before falling down to around £128.
“A bogus user account was utilized to produce an unauthorized news release,” according to Globe Newswire.
The business said in a statement that “this has never happened before” and that it was implementing “improved authentication” to prevent it from happening again.
It didn’t go into great depth about what went wrong or who was behind the phony press release.
However, in the cryptocurrency realm, so-called “pump and dump” scams are prevalent, in which bad actors try to inflate the price of a coin by creating enthusiasm, then hastily sell their stock before the market corrects itself.
A Counterfeit Domain
The bogus press release claimed that starting October 1st, Litecoin would be accepted on all Walmart e-commerce platforms.
It included remarks that appeared to emanate from both the Walmart CEO and the Litecoin founder.
A press contact email address pointed to a web domain that had only been registered last month, which gave away its true origins. Messages sent to that address were returned as undeliverable.
When CNBC contacted Walmart representatives by phone, they were informed that the press release was a hoax. CNBC stated it was one of the news outlets that published the article before realizing it was false.
We reached out to Walmart, the Litecoin Foundation, and Global Newswire for comment.
Because of the volatility of cryptocurrency values, which can be a barrier to adopting them for retail purchases, some skeptics were surprised by the announcement.
Other businesses that have adopted Bitcoin have drafted rules to protect themselves from significant price volatility.
When Tesla embraced Bitcoin as a payment option for its cars for a limited time, it made it plain that the price was in US dollars – and that any quote in comparable Bitcoin was only valid for a limited period.
It further stated that if a refund was required, Tesla would have the option of paying it in US dollars or Bitcoin, which may have a lower monetary value than the original payment.
PayPal, however, recently added the option to buy and sell Bitcoin, but it cannot be used to make payments. Instead, the cryptocurrency assets will be sold for the appropriate quantity of actual money in order to complete the transaction.
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