When I woke up this morning, the big breaking technology news on the web was that Google had plunked down $400 million to buy ICOA, a builder of public Wi-Fi networks. Numerous major tech sites published pieces on the acquisition, some with helpful analysis explaining why it was such a significant development.
And then, there was more breaking news: It turned out that the deal was news to both Google and ICOA.
As Cnet’s Shara Tibken reports:
The trouble is the press release isn’t real, according to ICOA.
The company’s chief financial officer, Erwin Vahlsing, Jr., told CNET in an email that the news is false. He didn’t provide any other information.
ICOA Chief Executive George Strouthopoulos, meanwhile, told CNET that the company has “never had any discussions with any potential acquirers.”
“Someone, I guess a stock promoter with a dubious interest, is disseminating wrong, false and misleading info in the PR circles,” he said in an email. “ICOA will report this to the proper authorities.”
The hoax seems to have originated with a “press release” at PRWeb, which, amazingly, took until about 1:15pm ET to yank it, long after its fraudulence was obvious. Neither ICOA nor Google published the news at their own sites, and the release is brief and unconvincing-sounding. Looks like the news sites which reported the imaginary acquisition didn’t do much legwork.