Press release distribution website PRWeb published a fake release Monday morning about Google acquiring wireless hotspot provider ICOA.
The two-paragraph release claimed Google had purchased ICOA for $400 million. Soon after the release was posted on the Vocus-owned site, ICOA CEO George Strouthopoulos denied the acquisition. Yet by that time, several influential media outlets, including the Associated Press and TechCrunch, had already picked up the news.
“Someone, I guess a stock promoter with a dubious interest, is disseminating wrong, false, and misleading info in the PR circles,” Strouthopoulos told Reuters.
He added that the company was investigating the source of the fake release, which seemed to originate from Aruba using a Gmail address.
PRWeb issued a statement on the fraudulent release, calling it an instance of identity theft.
“Vocus reviews all press releases and follows an internal process designed to maintain the integrity of the releases we send out every day. Even with reasonable safeguards, identity theft occurs, on occasion, across all of the major wire services,” the company said in a statement. “We have removed the fraudulent release and turned the matter over to the proper authorities for further investigation.”