By Alexei Oreskovic
SAN FRANCISCO Nov 26 The chief executive of
wireless hotspot provider ICOA Inc said his company
has never had acquisition talks with Google Inc and is
contacting authorities about a "hoax" press release on Monday
that said Google bought his company for $400 million.
"ICOA never had any discussions with any major company like
Google," George Strouthopoulos, the company's chief executive
and chairman, said in an email.
"Someone, I guess a stock promoter with a dubious interest,
is disseminating wrong, false and misleading info in the PR
circles," he said.
Shares of ICOA, which is traded over-the-counter, jumped
from .0001 cents to .0005 cents on Monday after a short,
two-paragraph press release was circulated stating Google had
bought the company. Shares of ICOA have since fallen back to
The supposed acquisition was reported by several news
outlets including the Associated Press and popular technology
blogs such as TechCrunch.
PRWeb, a service for publishing press releases owned by
Vocus Inc and which published the item, said in a
statement that it has removed the "fraudulent" release and
turned the matter over to authorities.
"Vocus reviews all press releases and follows an internal
process designed to maintain the integrity of the releases we
send out every day," the company said. "Even with reasonable
safeguards identity theft occurs, on occasion, across all of the
major wire services."
Google declined to comment.
At $400 million, the deal would have valued ICOA at roughly
470 times its market value of roughly $850,000, according to
"We are investigating the source, so far it originated from
Aruba," ICOA's Strouthopoulos said.
He said that a staffer at PRWeb told his company that the
press release was submitted by someone using a Gmail address
that appeared to be affiliated with ICOA, as well as a phone
number with the Aruba area code.
Strouthopoulos said his company planned to report the event
to "the proper authorities," including the U.S. Securities and
The SEC and the FBI declined to comment.
Google shares were down $3.96 at $664.01 in midday trading