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Impersonating Walmart, crooks send crypto up 25%

Investors had plenty of reason to believe the news was true: A verified Litecoin Twitter account tweeted a link to the announcement, which appeared on the GlobeNewswire press release service. The press release seemed legitimate enough, including (fabricated) quotes from Walmart CEO Doug McMillon. Walmart had just posted a job for a cryptocurrency expert to work at its headquarters. And several major news agencies picked up the news.

The ad, however, was bogus, a Walmart (WMT) spokesperson confirmed. Walmart does not accept Litecoin and Litecoin deleted its tweet. An hour after the announcement was made, the price of Litecoin rose from over $ 220 to $ 178 –— roughly where it was trading before the fake publication came out.

It is not yet clear who the crooks are, but the ploy is likely a pump and a dumping ground. This is when people buy an asset and raise the price – usually with fake news – to sell it once the price starts to soar.

GlobeNewswire deleted the press release within minutes of the CNN disclosure and issued a correction, urging investors and media to ignore the announcement.

A spokesperson for Intrado, the service’s parent company, said in an email that a “fraudulent user account” had been created to publish the bogus statement. The service has stepped up its authentication measures and pledged to conduct a full investigation into how its systems were triggered.

While the press release appeared genuine at first glance, it did contain telltale signs of fake news. It contained the fake “walmart-corp.com” website as the email address of Walmart’s Marketing Director. He used a partial title for McMillon. And it was the first and only press release Walmart had published on GlobeNewswire.

Litecoin was also an odd choice for Walmart. Although it is among the oldest cryptocurrencies on the market, it is not among the top 10 largest digital coins and is generally not among the most actively traded – although that changed on Monday when several billion Litecoin dollars have changed hands, according to online trading. Coinbase platform.

Pumping and dumping systems are generally reserved for less regulated markets, such as penny stocks and cryptocurrencies, where regulators and investors have less knowledge of the markets and less ability to detect criminal activity. . While unusual, the forged press release from a company the size of Walmart was not the first of its kind.

The past few months have been hectic for cryptocurrencies, which have been on the rise in recent years. Bitcoin, which hit an all-time high of nearly $ 65,000 in April, fell to $ 28,800 in June after China stepped up its crackdown on digital currencies. It is now around $ 44,000.
Regulatory concerns have also increased around digital currencies. The Senate added a provision to its $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed last month that imposes more federal regulation on cryptocurrencies and could increase the number of cryptocurrency users who should report the statements to the Internal Revenue Service. The bill must now be approved by the House before it can make its way to President Joe Biden’s office.

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