That report that Apple CEO Steve Jobs had suffered a heart attack may just have been a teenage prank, Bloomberg News reports.
Citing unnamed sources within the Securities and Exchange Commission, Bloomberg News says the person who posted the bogus report to iReport.com, CNN's user-content Web site, was an 18-year-old who didn't appear to have any financial motive for making the claim.
Apple stock plummeted in the hours after the report was posted Oct. 3, losing more than 5 percent of its value, or $4.8 billion in market capitalization, before the Cupertino, Calif.-based company issued a denial. The stock rebounded somewhat to finish the day down 3 percent.
The SEC immediately launched a probe into possible insider trading, but may have to back off if it turns out the hoaxer had no financial stake in Apple.
"If the posting wasn't directly related to the purchase or sale of a security it's questionable the SEC would have jurisdiction," a former SEC lawyer told Bloomberg News.
In mid-2004, Jobs told Apple employees that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was briefly led to believe he had only 6 months to live, but had undergone surgery to successfully remove the cancerous tissue.
Rumors began swirling again when Jobs, widely regarded as indispensable to Apple's success, appeared startingly thin at a company event in June 2008. Jobs asserted he was cancer-free.
In late August, Bloomberg accidentally sent a prewritten obituary of Jobs to its thousands of financial-information subscribers. It was immediately retracted.