- Charlie Lee has owned up to the role that the Litecoin Foundation played in the spread of the hoax press release claiming Walmart would start accepting Litecoin payments.
- Lee, however, denied any links to the fake PR, claiming that he owns just 20 LTC and thus had no motive to pump the price of the token.
After being relatively quiet for months, Litecoin grabbed the headlines on Monday after a hoax press release pushed the price up by 34 percent in thirty minutes. The PR claimed that Walmart would start accepting Litecoin payments, but the retailer would later deny this. Charlie Lee, the founder of the cryptocurrency project has owned up to the fiasco, claiming in an interview that “this time, we screwed up.”
As CNF reported, the PR was published on Globe Newswire and had some peculiarities that led many to doubt its authenticity. For one, it redirected viewers to a non-functional website. Further, Walmart had not published the news in their newsroom.
Still, the PR was shared quite widely and covered by major outlets. It led to a sharp surge in LTC price, but it later lost all the gains after Walmart denied the links.
One of the accounts that shared the fake news on Twitter belonged to the Litecoin Foundation, a non-profit led by Lee that focuses on advancing the cryptocurrency.
Speaking to Bloomberg TV, Lee said that just like anyone else, he was also fooled by the fake PR.
This morning I woke up and found out that Walmart is accepting Litecoin, and I was like, ‘Wow that’s awesome,’ — and it turned out to be fake.
The Litecoin Foundation founder and managing editor says it “screwed up” after one of its employees retweeted what turned out to be an untrue announcement about a partnership with Walmart https://t.co/MnHTJLhUHP
— Bloomberg (@business) September 13, 2021
We screwed up, Lee admits
“We didn’t have a partnership [with Walmart],” Lee told Emily Chang, a Bloomberg TV anchor. However, he clarified that Walmart was at liberty to start accepting Litecoin payments without necessarily having to talk to the foundation first. Litecoin is a decentralized project and the foundation merely contributes to its development, just like any other developer is free to.
Lee revealed that one of the staffers at the foundation had shared the news on Twitter without first verifying the source, and for that, he took responsibility.
We try our best to not tweet fake news and this time we really screwed up. I deny that it has anything to do with us and we’ll try our best to figure out who did it — and we will stop fake news from spreading.
Walmart and Globe Newswire are investigating the root of the PR. The latter also claimed that it would do more to vet sources before publishing releases to avoid such an occurrence.
Lee, who is a former director of engineering at Coinbase and an ex-Google software engineer, pointed out that fake PRs are not a cryptocurrency issue. Even in the more advanced and regulated equities market, they still exist, he told Bloomberg.