The price of Litecoin skyrocketed as much as 27 per cent Monday morning on a widely circulated press release that the cryptocurrency had entered a partnership with the largest retailer in the U.S.
The press release, which was posted to GlobeNewswire.com and shared by the Litecoin's official Twitter account, claimed that Walmart intended to provide its shoppers "an opportunity to seamlessly make payments with cryptocurrencies." It included fake quotes from Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and Litecoin creator Charlie Lee.
It was, in fact, "a fake news release," Walmart confirmed later Monday.
"Walmart had no knowledge of the press release issued by GlobeNewswire and it is incorrect," the company said in a statement posted to its website.
"Walmart has no relationship with Litecoin." The press release and the tweet posted to the Litecoin Twitter account have since been deleted.
Litecoin issued a press release on Monday saying it had "no information as to where this idea or the release to the press originated."
"The Litecoin Foundation has not entered into a partnership with Walmart of any kind," Litecoin said in a statement shared on Twitter.
Litecoin said the news release was shared on its own Twitter account after it was picked up by several media outlets, including Reuters, and "one of our social media team members was a little too eager and shared the story from the Litecoin Twitter account."
The price of Litecoin was brought back to earth following the debunking of the news release, and was down about 2 per cent as of 3:19 p.m. ET. The coin has a market cap of approximately USD$12 billion, according to Yahoo Finance data provided by CoinMarketCap.
The incident highlights the volatility that can come with the cryptocurrency world. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler has previously referred to the industry as "the wild west of our financial system."
In July, Amazon found itself at the centre of a media report that said it was looking to accept bitcoin payments by the end of the year. The e-commerce giant denied the report, saying the company was "focused on exploring what this could look like for customers shopping on Amazon."
With files from Reuters
Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.