Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Fake Google Announcement Was Likely a Stock Pump-and-Dump Scheme

Phony press release claims that search giant paid $400 million for a $1 million wireless company.
November 26, 2012

You are what you link to.

Several news organizations earlier today repeated information from a phony press release that circulated after 10 a.m., claiming Google was acquiring a tiny Rhode Island firm, ICOA, that installs public Wi-Fi nodes. The release first circulated on PRWeb, a free service operated by a public relations company called Vocus.

The release had a few telltale signs of fraud, with no contact information or canned quotes. It would have been stunning news about ICOA—a $400 million acquisition of a penny-stock company with a total market cap of less than $1 million—and the result can be seen in its stock price, which soared from 1/100th of a penny to 1/20th of a penny (a fivefold increase) before plunging back to where it started by noon.

ICOA CEO George Strouthopoulos wrote me this explanation: “Earlier today, I spoke with Megan from the PRWeb editor’s desk … inquiring who the heck gave them the [press release]. She told me it came from icoamail@gmail.co 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 U.S. The 297 area code is from Aruba.” Also, note that the phone number starts with 555, which, as we all know from years of watching television dramas, is never an actual phone number.

OK. So score one for a pump-and-dump operation; that is, a fraud scheme in which someone spreads phony positive information about a company in order to inflate a stock price and create a selling opportunity.

Too bad it wasn’t true. It would have been almost as astonishing as Google deciding to parachute into a Midwestern city to install the fastest Internet connections in the nation (see “Google’s Internet Service Might Actually Bring the U.S. Up to Speed”).

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot
Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot

It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.

If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.

crypto winter concept
crypto winter concept

Crypto is weathering a bitter storm. Some still hold on for dear life.

When a cryptocurrency’s value is theoretical, what happens if people quit believing?

chasm concept
chasm concept

Artificial intelligence is creating a new colonial world order

An MIT Technology Review series investigates how AI is enriching a powerful few by dispossessing communities that have been dispossessed before.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.