The release, sent on GlobeNewswire around 9:30 a.m. Eastern, claimed Walmart customers could soon use Litecoin to buy products from America’s largest retailer.
It was promoted by Reuters, CNBC, the Bloomberg terminal network, and the Litecoin Foundation.
The news caused the price of a single Litecoin to surge about $60 to $233.75.
But Walmart soon called the release fake, and Litecoin acknowledged the news wasn’t true.
“Walmart was the subject of a fake news release,” the company said in a brief statement, describing the release as “incorrect” and stating that it has no relationship with Litecoin.
The Litecoin Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes the cryptocurrency, said that its sharing of the release was due to a social media team staffer being “a little too eager” about the fake news.
“This was quickly deleted and we have taken steps to correct future issues,” the foundation said.
Quotes contained in the release from Charlie Lee, the foundation’s managing director and the cryptocurrency’s creator, were described as fabricated.
The release also quoted Doug McMillon, Walmart’s CEO.
GlobeNewswire later removed the release. Intrado, GlobeNewswire’s parent company, told The Epoch Times in an email that a fraudulent user account was used to issue the fake press release.
When the company became aware of what happened, it issued a notice to disregard.
“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. 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, an Intrado spokesman, said.
Reuters, CNBC, and Bloomberg’s terminal were among the media outlets that spread the fake news.
“A Reuters story reporting a partnership between Walmart and Litecoin was withdrawn as soon as we established the press release was fake,” a spokesperson for Reuters told The Epoch Times via email.
Spokespersons for CNBC and Bloomberg didn’t answer emailed questions.
CNBC corrected its original article, which was titled, “Walmart to accept payments with cryptocurrencies using Litecoin.” The outlet said its article “cited a fake press release.”
A Bloomberg report didn’t mention the terminal release. It said what happened “underscores the danger of hoaxes in one of the hottest corners of the financial markets.”