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Fake news release falsely reported partnership between Walmart, digital currency

by The Associated Press | September 14, 2021 at 11:03 a.m.
In this file photo customers enter a Walmart store at 406 S. Walton Blvd. in Bentonville. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

NEW YORK -- A fake news release Monday outlining a partnership involving Walmart and digital currency Litecoin led to a brief flurry of inaccurate reporting from national news outlets and social media users.

The news release is "not real," Walmart spokesperson Molly Blakeman said. Charlie Lee, creator of Litecoin and managing director of the Litecoin Foundation, confirmed the release was fake.

The false announcement was temporarily featured on a major news release wire and in outlets including Reuters, CNBC and Yahoo Finance, before being deleted and corrected. It wasn't immediately clear who created it.

Lee confirmed the release was fake in an email. A Litecoin employee mistakenly tweeted the false claim on Monday from the currency's verified account after seeing the bogus announcement on GlobeNewswire, a major distributor of news releases, Lee explained. The employee later realized his error and deleted the tweet, Lee said.

The release included fabricated claims that Walmart would allow customers to pay for purchases with the digital currency starting Oct. 1.

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