Fake Walmart News Display Spurs Spike in Little-Used Cryptocurrency Litecoin

Fake Walmart News Display Spurs Spike in Little-Used Cryptocurrency Litecoin

A press release, distributed by GlobeNewswire, touted the retail giant’s alledged new payment option with Litecoin that turned out to be fake, according to Walmart.

Walmart and crypto investors were hit with fake news on Monday.

The price of litecoin, a little-used cryptocurrency, spiked in early trading Monday before falling back, after a news release touting a partnership with giant retailer Walmart Inc. turned out to be fake.

Litecoin traded as high as $231, up 30%, after the issuance of the release via Globe Newswire at 9:30 a.m. ET. The cryptocurrency quickly fell after Walmart said the news release was fraudulent.

The news release, purportedly from Walmart, claimed the retail giant would allow customers to make payments with the cryptocurrency. Walmart shares were down 44 cents at $145.29.

“The press release is not authentic,” said a Walmart spokeswoman. Walmart doesn’t currently accept cryptocurrency as payment in the U.S., she said.

Litecoin creator Charlie Lee said the release wasn’t connected to the cryptocurrency or the Litecoin Foundation, a nonprofit that manages it as a software project. “Yeah, it’s fake,” he said. “Don’t know who created it.”

The Litecoin Foundation’s social-media manager was fooled by the fake release, Mr. Lee said, and retweeted it from the foundation’s Twitter account. “He thought it was real, too,” he said. “It was wrong to retweet it. We deleted it quickly afterwards. But the damage is done.”

Mr. Lee said the group would formally apologize for the mistake through its Twitter account. Mr. Lee created litecoin in 2011 as an alternative to bitcoin, taking the latter’s code and tweaking it to create a digital currency with lower fees and faster confirmation times. It has been one of the more well-known cryptocurrencies but never grew into much more than a curiosity.

Litecoin trading had been flat in recent months. Since the beginning of July, average daily trading volume totaled about $2 billion, according to data from CoinMarketCap. After the news release went out, though, trading surged. Its volume for the past 24 hours is up about 200% at $7.4 billion, according to the website.

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