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.
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.
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.