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False Press Release Halts Fingerprint Stock Amid Probe

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Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Fingerprint Cards AB, a Swedish maker of biometric sensors, plans to request a police probe into a false press release that said it agreed to be bought by Samsung Electronics Co. and sent its stock soaring 51 percent.

The shares traded for 17 minutes after the statement was published by press-release distributor Cision AB, before being suspended by the Stockholm exchange because of volatility. Trades on the stock and peer Precise Biometrics AB, which also surged, after the statement’s publication were canceled.

Fingerprint Cards said it didn’t send the release. Cision appears to have been deceived by an individual who contacted the distribution service and pretended to be a Fingerprint executive, said Magnus Thell, head of Cision in Sweden.

“Obviously, we have been a victim of fraud,” Thell said in an interview. “We spoke with an individual who posed as the managing director of Fingerprint Cards and were simply tricked.”

Cision has filed a police report, he said. The Stockholm-based company’s computer systems weren’t hacked, Thell said.

“We have substantial precautions and procedures in place but in this case we were tricked,” Thell said.

Fingerprint Cards, based in Gothenburg, Sweden, briefly added about $200 million in market value after the press release said Samsung had agreed to a $650 million takeover. Calls to Fingerprint Cards Chief Executive Officer Johan Carlstroem’s mobile phone weren’t returned.

Cision Falls

The stock fell 0.5 percent to 52.50 kronor at 4:45 p.m. in Stockholm. Precise Biometrics, which had risen as much as 43 percent, added 1 percent to 2.11 kronor. Cision declined as much as 7.2 percent, the most in more than five months.

“We cannot comment on any specific details on this apparent false information that seems to have been released to the market,” Johan Allstrin, head of the Swedish financial authority’s market-monitoring division, said in a phone interview.

Jason Kim, a spokesman for Samsung, said he was unaware of a deal with Fingerprint Cards and that he would confer with colleagues. Chenny Kim, a spokeswoman at Samsung, later sent a text message saying “it’s not true.”

Fingerprint Cards and Precise Biometrics have soared this year amid predictions that more smartphones will be equipped with fingerprint-reading technology after Apple Inc. added such sensors to its latest iPhone model.

Emulex, Innotrac

Fingerprint Cards isn’t the first company targeted by hoaxers. In 2010, General Mills Inc., the maker of Cheerios cereal, was the victim of a fake press release saying U.S. President Barack Obama had sought an investigation of the company’s supply chain.

In 2006, PR Newswire said it distributed a false statement about Innotrac Corp., a call-center and warehouse services operator. In 2000, Emulex Corp. shares plunged after a release-distribution service published a fictitious press release that said the company reversed a fourth-quarter profit to a loss.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Ewing in Stockholm at aewing5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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