Nov, 27 2012

Question: how do you turn a profit on nearly valueless stock? Answer: invent a bogus $400 million acquisition deal. That seems to be the only explanation behind a press release that reached PRWeb and subsequently ComputerWorld (as an automated post) earlier this morning claiming that Google had bought out public WiFi provide ICOA Corp..

The news was denied outright by ICOA’s CFO Erwin Vahlsing and CEO George Strouthopoulos. Google shot down any remaining notions that a deal was being worked on behind closed doors.

The likely scam paid off for a short time, turning stock valued at 0.0001 cents into a 0.0005 cent commodity after the news broke. The gain in value might have been small but could have easily brought in a decent chunk of change for dishonest investors. The counterfeit statement has since been pulled from ComputerWorld (though the original release is still up as of writing) and trading of ICOA stock has been frozen.

The scam was believable for a number of reasons, not the least of which being Google’s penchant for acquiring other tech startups. This particular purchase could have had big implications, as it would signify that Google was at least mulling over the idea of entering the public WiFi provider space. It is looking like this won’t be the case, however. Statements released by ICOA clarify that the company has had no talks with “any potential acquirers.”

Much about the press release seemed dubious at best. It was short and contained no statements from either party involved, and nary a piece of corroborating news from ICOA or Google was to be found. Moreover, a look at ICOA’s recent activity shows a business that Google would have little reason to desire.

According to TechCrunch, ICOA has been the subject of an ongoing restructuring, which has brought about the cancellation of 23 percent of the company’s issued shares. A lack of funding resulted in the ICOA backing out of an acquisition deal of their own, which would have netted Tango Software. Sounds like reason enough for some perturbed stockholders to take the money and run by all means necessary.

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