US supermarket chain Kroger said it is investigating the publication of a fraudulent press release on its website announcing plans to accept the Bitcoin Cash cryptocurrency in its stores.
The scam comes weeks after Walmart was also targeted by a fraudulent release claiming it had formed a deal with little-known cryptocurrency Litecoin.
The Kroger release appeared on PR Newswire, as well as on Kroger’s investor relations web page, which includes an automated feed from PRN.
“This communication was fraudulent and is unfounded and should be disregarded,” the company said in a statement.
It added that Kroger is communicating with PRN on the issue.
PRN pulled the announcement and said it was “urgently investigating the incident including looking into any criminal activity associated with this matter”.
Bitcoin Cash, a fork of Bitcoin, was formed in 2017 by a group of cryptocurrency miners who wanted to introduce technical improvements. It in turn forked the following year into Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV.
Walmart, the US’ largest retailer, was hit by a similar hoax in September when a fake press release claimed it was in a deal with Litecoin.
The Litecoin hoax release was cited by a number of news publications, and Litecoin briefly gained 20 percent on the news, before crashing again when the release was revealed to be a fake.
That release had been sent out by GlobeNewswire, but did not appear on Walmart’s official site.
“This has never happened before and we have already put in place enhanced authentication steps to prevent this isolated incident from occurring in the future,” GlobeNewswire said at the time.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission declined to comment.
The hoaxes recall a July 2020 incident in which the Twitter accounts of a number of major figures were simultaneously hacked to promote a Bitcoin scam.
In March of this year US teenager Graham Ivan Clark was sentenced to three years in prison for the scam.
Cryptocurrencies are, however, also gaining a genuine foothold at US retailers, with cinema chain AMC saying in September it would accept Bitcoin, Ether, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin for ticket purchases in the coming months.
Walmart said in October it would allow customers to purchase Bitcoin at ATM-like machines installed by Coinstar, while Kroger last year began offering a Bitcoin rewards programme through a third-party firm called Lolli.
Safeway, another major US supermarket chain, began offering Lolli’s Bitcoin rewards in 2019.
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