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Walmart says crypto payments announcement is fake. Litecoin tumbles after spike

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Phony Walmart press release sends litecoin higher

Cryptocurrency litecoin gave up a 20% gain and tumbled back to Earth following a fake press release sent out by GlobeNewswire that referenced a partnership with Walmart.

Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove confirmed that the press release is not authentic. He also said the retailer has been in touch with the newswire company to investigate how the false press release got posted.

GlobeNewswire is owned by telecommunications company Intrado. It issued a "notice to disregard" the original release at 11:18 a.m. ET.

A number of media organizations, including CNBC, sent headlines on the announcement. Shares of Walmart had little movement on it. Litecoin was down about 2.2%, according to Coin Metrics.

GlobeNewswire said that a fraudulent user account was used to issue the release.

"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," said a spokesperson. "We will work with the appropriate authorities to request – and facilitate – a full investigation, including into any criminal activity associated with this matter."

Customers shop at a Walmart store on August 04, 2021 in Houston, Texas.
Brandon Bell | Getty Images

Litecoin tweeted the press release from its official account at 9:50 a.m. ET. CNBC's report on the what turned out to be fake was published five minutes later.

In a statement Monday afternoon, the Litecoin Foundation said a social media team member "was a little too eager and shared the story from the Litecoin Twitter account. This was quickly deleted and we have taken steps to correct future issues."

The Securities and Exchange Commission said it does not comment on such matters.

The news release said that Walmart, the biggest retailer in the U.S., would accept cryptocurrency for payments from shoppers using litecoin. It referenced a nonworking website in the email of one of the contacts listed, raising suspicions.

The release was never listed on Walmart's official corporate website and has been removed from the GlobeNewswire website.

Correction: The original version of this article cited a fake press release in reporting a partnership between Walmart and Litecoin. Walmart later confirmed that no such partnership exists.