Kroger looking into fake press release touting acceptance of bitcoin cash

FILE PHOTO: The Kroger supermarket chain's headquarters is shown in Cincinnati

By Uday Sampath Kumar

(Reuters) – Kroger Co is looking into the publication of a fake press release, claiming the acceptance of bitcoin cash at its stores, the grocer said on Friday, after becoming the second major retailer in recent weeks to get entangled in a crypto hoax.

The release, which said the grocer would accept the cryptocurrency this holiday season, appeared on Kroger’s investor relations page, and was later deleted.

The company said the page, which gets automatically updated, receives a direct feed from PR Newswire (PRN), where the fake release also appeared.

“This communication was fraudulent and is unfounded and should be disregarded,” a company spokesperson said in an emailed statement, adding that the company was in touch with PRN to sort out the issue.

PRN also issued an advisory to disregard the announcement. The news release distributor, which describes itself as a “trusted source” for accuracy on its website, did not respond to questions on how the fake statement was released on its service.

Bitcoin cash is a fork of bitcoin’s underlying software code formed in 2017, and was an initiative headed by a small group of mostly China-based bitcoin miners.

Walmart Inc was subject to a cryptocurrency hoax in September when a fake press release was published, announcing a partnership between the world’s largest retailer and litecoin. The news had briefly sent prices of the little known cryptocurrency surging.

Despite a string of hoaxes, cyptocurrencies are gaining acceptance among mainstream investors and companies such as theater chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc, which said in September that it would accept bitcoin, ether, bitcoin cash and litecoin for ticket purchases in the coming months.

Bitcoin prices turned slightly negative after Kroger said the release was fake.

Kroger shares fell about 2% in morning trading.

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Bernard Orr and Anil D’Silva)