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Hoax: Another reason for considering long-term investing

If you’re a stock day trader, you have yet another reason to reconsider long-term investing.

A hoax news release purportedly from the ANZ Bank (ASX: ANZ) which said the bank was withdrawing its support of Whitehaven Coal (ASX: WHC) Maules Creek Project was sent yesterday, and widely reported as fact by many media organisations.

In fact, the hoax news release was sent by a young protester named Jonathan Moylan, who is campaigning against the mine.

The release said the bank was withdrawing a $1.2 billion loan, which is crucial for Whitehaven to develop a new colliery, and caused the coal miner’s shares to fall by up to 9% yesterday, before the issue was cleared up, and the price rose back to its early morning trading levels.

For day traders and those who implement stop losses, many are likely to have been forced to sell their shares, or have it done automatically for them – despite there being no real reason for the shares to fall in price. In fact, there are reports that several traders were furious after suffering substantial losses because of the falling share price.

This is the third time in six months that false statements had moved company prices on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Department store retailer David Jones Limited (ASX: DJS) was the victim of a fake takeover bid back in July, and trading in Macmahon Holdings (ASX: MAH) was suspended in October when fake emails prompted takeover speculation.

Tougher laws are unlikely to stamp out hoax news releases, and investors need to be aware of the opportunities modern communications allow scammers. The protester claimed he bought an ANZ email address for just $25 and PDF documents can easily be doctored to look like a valid one.

Foolish takeaway

Long-term investors would likely have been unaffected by the news. Despite the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and Whitehaven both looking to see if there was a breach of law, we could still see more hoax emails and fake news releases in future. Just another reason to switch to long-term investing.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in David Jones. The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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