A press release issued Monday via online service PRWeb claiming that Google had acquired Wi-Fi services provider ICOA is false, according to ICOA chief executive officer George Strouthopoulos.
A Google source also confirmed that the Internet company has no agreement to buy ICOA, a Warwick, R.I.-based company. According to ICOA's website, it is a "broadband wireless Internet network provider" that also sells software to power Wi-Fi access in public locations such as airports and restaurants.
In an email Monday to Multichannel News, Strouthopoulos said, "Never had any discussions with any potential acquirers!! This is absolutely false!"
He added, "Someone, I guess a stock promoter with a dubious interest, is disseminating wrong, false and misleading info in the PR circles. ICOA will report this to the proper authorities."
Earlier Monday, a press release was posted on PRWeb with the headline, “ICOA Inc. Acquired by Google for $400 Million.”
Google is investigating the origin of the bogus news release, according to the Google source.
PRWeb is owned by Beltsville, Md.-based Vocus PRW Holdings. PRWeb, in a statement posted on its site Monday afternoon, said that "PRWeb transmitted a press release for ICOA that we have since learned was fraudulent. The release was not issued or authorized by ICOA. Vocus reviews all press releases and follows an internal process designed to maintain the integrity of the releases we send out every day. Even with reasonable safeguards identity theft occurs, on occasion, across all of the major wire services."
According to PRWeb, it has removed the fraudulent release "and turned the matter over to the proper authorities for further investigation."
ICOA shares are available to the public via over-the-counter trading. The company's stock price rose from $0.0001 per share to $0.0005 per share Monday morning, before receding to the previous price, according to the Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch website.