Cision AB, the Swedish press-release distributor, said it will only accept statements through its online system after a fake release caused two biometric companies’ shares to soar and led to a police probe.
The Stockholm-based distributor is no longer allowing customers to file statements via e-mail after a fictitious Oct. 11 statement said Samsung Electronics Co. agreed to buy Fingerprint Cards AB. Cision said it was probably deceived by an individual who contacted the service and pretended to be a Fingerprint executive.
“As of today, we won’t distribute any copy whatsoever originating from an e-mail,” Magnus Thell, head of Cision in Sweden, said in a phone interview. “As of today the only way of distributing press releases is through our online system. That is our immediate measure in terms of changes.”
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. Precise Biometrics AB, another Swedish company that specializes in biometric-sensor technology, also jumped. Trades made on both stocks following the fake statement were canceled.
Cision has reported the case to the police, Thell said.
Cision’s security routines were “lousy” and “sloppy,” Fingerprint Cards Chief Executive Officer Johan Carlstroem said in an interview. The distributor failed to verify the authenticity of the release by calling the Fingerprint Cards contact numbers they have on file before publishing, he said. Carlstroem said he reported the case to the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority, which passed it on to the police.
“We see this as serious situation and are investigating this as a case of major fraud,” Olof Kronlund, deputy chief prosecutor at the Swedish Economic Crime Authority, said in a statement on its website last week.
Cision fell as much as 3.7 percent and declined 3.1 percent to 34.20 kronor at the 5:30 p.m. close in Stockholm, extending a 5.4 percent decline on Oct. 11.
TeliaSonera AB, Sweden’s largest phone company and one of Cision’s customers, said that it doesn’t send releases to the distributor by e-mail and that it has been satisfied with the service.
“We always and only send via their online distribution tool and are very happy with them,” said Kristina Hunter Nilsson, a spokeswoman for the Stockholm-based phone carrier.