Google gets punked by fake news of ICOA acquisition

A press release on PRWeb says the search giant bought Wi-Fi technology provider ICOA for $400 million, but ICOA says the news is false.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
2 min read
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It's a long ways from April Fools' Day, but someone had a little fun with fake Google acquisition news today.

According to a press release on PRWeb, Google bought Wi-Fi provider ICOA for $400 million. 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 e-mail 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 e-mail. "ICOA will report this to the proper authorities."

We've reached out to Google and PRWeb and will update when we get additional information.

According to the release, Google was buying ICOA to "further diversify it's already impressive portfolio of companies."

As the previous sentence shows, the press release contained typos (note the mistaken use of "it's") and seemed to be a bit of a stretch. It also didn't appear anywhere else, including Google blogs or ICOA's site.

Here's the full fake release, typos and all:

ICOA Inc. Acquired by Google for $400 Million

ICOA, Inc. is a national provider of wireless and wired broadband Internet networks in high-traffic public locations.

ICOA Has Been Acquired by Google for $400 Million

Warwick, RI (PRWEB) November 26, 2012

Google has announced its acquisition of ICOA Inc. A provider of Wi-Fi to high traffic public locations. ICOA is a leading vertically integrated, neutral-host broadband wireless Internet network provider. Their suite of services and solutions power the unique requirements of high-traffic public locations such as airports, marinas, restaurants and more, while also providing back office solutions for hotspot operators and wireless service providers. Google looks to further diversify it's already impressive portfolio of companies.

ICOA, Inc. is a national provider of wireless and wired broadband Internet networks in high-traffic public locations. ICOA provides design, installation, operation, maintenance and management of WI-FI hot-spot and hot-zone Internet access. Based in Warwick, Rhode Island, ICOA owns or operates broadband access installations in high-traffic locations across 40 states, located in airports, quick-service restaurants, hotels and motels, travel plazas, marinas etc. ICOA networks are compatible with widely-used 802.11x technology and with virtually all Internet service providers. Further information is at http://www.icoacorp.com. Updated at 8:55 a.m. PT with comments from ICOA's CEO.