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Fake Walmart litecoin press release sends crypto soaring

Published Sep 13th, 2021 12:07PM EDT
Walmart Litecoin
Image: stockphoto-graf/Adobe

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Several big corporations including major retailers have taken an active interest in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. We saw speculation recently indicating that crypto payments might be coming to Amazon and Walmart in the near future, as both companies are working on some blockchain initiatives. But we didn’t expect an announcement so soon. Yet a fake Walmart press release had the world fooled early on Monday, briefly sending litecoin prices soaring 20% before people realized that the announcement had been faked.

The fake press release

Crypto enthusiasts are familiar with litecoin, one of the older bitcoin challengers. The coin reached an all-time high in mid-May when it topped $410. The previous record dates back to a late-2017 bull run when one litecoin sold for $366.

In 2021, the crypto landscape is different than it was 2017, and a fake Walmart announcement on Monday claiming that the retailer will support litecoin payments must have surprised many people. Walmart has been looking at crypto payments, given its recent job ad. But litecoin might seem like a strange choice to many people when other, more popular coins exist.

With that in mind, litecoin jumped from around $173 to $245 when the fake press release dropped. Several news outlets reported on the news, including Reuters and CNBC. Even the official Litecoin account retweeted the news before deleting the message.

The entire crypto market had been trading in the red on Monday. Most major coins registered losses, with some trading as much as 10% lower than on Sunday. The overall drop had nothing to do with the fake Walmart announcement. But litecoin surged on the fake news, before promptly falling back to previous levels.

People soon realized the news release was fake. CNCB reported that a Walmart spokesperson said the GlobeNewswire press release was not genuine. Someone faked it and managed to get it approved by the newswire service.

Walmart doesn’t accept litecoin, bitcoin, or any other cryptocurrency

It’s still a mystery how someone could have sent a fake Walmart press release to GlobeNewswire and gotten it published. But it’s clearly a scheme meant to drive up the litecoin price. Investors excited at the prospect of seeing Walmart accept crypto payments would buy the digital token, driving up the price as a result. The malicious individuals who had engineered the scheme would then sell their litecoin as the price surged. They’d undoubtedly walk away with quite a profit.

The press release looked like the real thing, which is why it fooled everyone. However, it quickly rose suspicion as it referenced a non-working website in the email of the contacts field. CNBC also pointed out that the press release was never listed on Walmart’s website. Separately, The Verge points out that Walmart routinely uses Business Wire to send out news releases, not GlobeNewswire.

In conclusion, nothing has changed when it comes to paying for goods at Walmart. The retailer doesn’t accept litecoin, bitcoin, or any other cryptocurrency at this time.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.