News broke today that Rhode Island-based Wi-Fi access provider ICOA Wireless had been acquired by Google in a blockbuster $400 million deal. The only problem was the news appears to have been faked, possibly in the hopes of boosting ICOA’s penny-stock price as part of a pump-and-dump scheme.
The idea of the sale was plausible enough at its face: Wireless access providers are relatively capital-heavy companies, and Google has been experimenting with offering Wi-Fi in Mountain Viewas well as fiber access. So when a press release was published on PRWeb, a number of news sources, including the Associated Press and TechCrunch, ran with the story, with some reporters even posting breaking analysis of the motivation for the deal .
AllThingsD then refuted the story with off-the-record sources at Google, pointing out some of the more tell-tale signs in the press release that something was fishy:
— No bland, generic executives statements were included in the release.
— No contact information for the two companies was included for follow-up questions.
— No statement on Google’s press page.
George Strouthopoulos, chief executive of ICOA, responded to some questions I had sent over, and I’ve included his email here. It looks like PRWeb might have been duped by a simple GMail address.
Earlier today, when I spoke with Megan from the PRWEB editor’s desk ([redacted]) inquiring who the heck gave them the PR she told me it came from firstname.lastname@example.org and the phone number was 297-555-2951.This email is fake , because it is not an ICOA email and the number is not from US. The 297 area code is from Aruba.
This was a Hoax. We are investigating the source, so far it originated from Aruba!You may want to contact Megan, [redacted] at editor’s desk at PRWEB. She promised ICOA to remove and retract the PR 5 hrs ago. Looks like she did remove the PR but still waiting for the report on their investigation as to who is the originator of the PR.
This is NOT TRUE!!Never had any discussions with any potential acquirers!! This is absolutely false! Someone, I guess a stock promoter with a dubious interest, is disseminating wrong, false and misleading info in the PR circles. ICOA will report this to the proper authorities. Sincerely