Fake Walmart Litecoin partnership claim briefly pumps LTC

Walmart has disavowed a cryptocurrency announcement that claimed the retail giant had inked a deal with Litecoin, after a fake press release fooled a number of high-profile outlets. The news, purporting to be an official announcement from Walmart and Litecoin, was published on GlobeNewswire early on Monday morning, September 12.

"Walmart was the subject of a fake news release issued on Monday, Sept. 13, that falsely stated Walmart announced a partnership with Litecoin (LTC)," the retailer said in a statement. "Walmart had no knowledge of the press release issued by GlobeNewswire, and it is incorrect. Walmart has no relationship with Litecoin."

The fake release suggested that Walmart would accept Litecoin for online purchases. Signs that the announcement wasn't legitimate, though, were fairly obvious from the outset. In addition to awkward phrasing and grammatical errors, the document wasn't made available on either Walmart's media site or the Litecoin Foundation's site. Despite that, outlets like CNBC and Reuters covered it as though it was authentic.

Adding to the confusion, a member of the Litecoin Foundation's social media team shared one of those articles from the organization's official Twitter account. In a statement, the Foundation denied any knowledge of the press release, and any speculation about a deal with Walmart. As for the social push, "one of our social media team members was a little too eager and shared the story from the Litecoin Twitter account," the organization admitted.

All the same, Litecoin saw a bump in value, presumably linked to the fake announcement. The coin briefly surged from the equivalent of around $170 per LTC, to over $228. However, it quickly reset back.

As for GlobeNewswire, the press release site issued an update clarifying "that journalists and other readers should disregard" the fake announcement. It's still unclear who was responsible for publishing it, and how it managed to make it through GlobeNewswire's checks.

Presumed to be the motivation was pumping LTC's value, though the impact of that seems to have only been brief in the end. Manipulation of cryptocurrency markets is increasingly a topic of concern, given the potential gains – and losses – from swings in individual coin values. Much in the same way, we've seen commentary from high-profile crypto enthusiasts such as Tesla's Elon Musk demonstrate their ability to push the market with as little as a tweet.