Someone duped online press-release service Internet Wire on Monday into publishing a phony release about Cel-Sci Corp. (ticker symbol: CVM), causing at least a short-lived jump in the tiny drug company's stock. The release has since been retracted.
Neither Internet Wire nor Cel-Sci knows who's behind the false release. Both firms said they've referred the matter to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which declined to comment.
The incident is reminiscent of the highly publicized case in 2000 in which a hoaxer drove shares of Costa Mesa-based Emulex Corp. (EMLX) lower by getting Internet Wire to distribute a false negative release about the company. After that incident, Internet Wire vowed to tighten its security to assure that all its releases were genuine.
Internet Wire said Tuesday that the failure of one of its employees to follow procedures strictly allowed the bogus release to slip through. The firm defended its procedures, and said it was frustrating that it had been victimized despite the procedures, which include authenticating phone calls.
The Cel-Sci release, which Internet Wire published early Monday morning, purported to announce an important partnership that would have provided a financial windfall for Vienna, Va.-based Cel-Sci.
The release boosted Cel-Sci's stock Monday to 31 cents a share from 29 cents on the American Stock Exchange; the stock went as high as 37 cents during the day. Trading volume was 1.3 million shares, more than five times the average volume for Cel-Sci.
But the substance of the release was untrue. Geert Kersten, Cel-Sci's chief executive, said the partnership described in the bogus release doesn't exist.
Cel-Sci's stock was unchanged Tuesday at 31 cents.
Fidelity to Team
Fidelity Investments will offer retirement savings information on Monster.com's Web site, an alliance the biggest U.S. mutual fund firm expects will help it win business from job changers using the Internet career site.
Monster and Fidelity, the No. 1 provider of workplace retirement savings plans, will create a site accessible directly from the Monster.com home page for users evaluating choices for handling retirement plans such as 401(k)s when changing jobs.