Articles Posted in Microcap Market Fraud

In an effort to crack down on fraud via pump-and-dump scams and reverse mergers, the Securities and Exchange Commission is suspending trading in the securities of 379 Microcap companies that are dormant. This is the most number of companies to have trading in them suspended in one day.

As part of its heightened efforts to combat microcap shell company-related fraud, The SEC’s Microcap Fraud Working Group employed Operation Shell-Expel, which employed different agency resources to pinpoint shell companies in 6 other countries and 32 US states that were dormant and vulnerable to scams. SEC Division Director Robert Khuzami said that “empty shell companies” are to certain financial scammers “what guns are to bank robbers.”

According to the SEC, stock manipulators are willing to pay up to $750,000 to get control of a company so they can pump and dump the stock to make illegal gains while investors suffer. Now, however, because the trading suspension mandates that current financial formation must be provided, these shell companies can no longer be used by fraudsters to perpetuate their scams.

Securities laws let the SEC suspend trading in any stock for 10 days maximum. Barring exemptions and exceptions, a company whose trading privileges have been suspended can’t be quoted again unless it issues update information, including financial statements that are accurate.

The SEC chooses to suspend trading in a stock when it feels that to do so will protect investors. In an Investor Alert, the Commission listed some of the reasons for suspending trading, including:

• Insufficient or not the most up-to-date or accurate information about a company, including no current periodic report filings.

• Existing questions about whether information made available to the public is accurate, including the most current details about a company’s operational status, business transactions, or financial state.

• Potential issues over the trading in the stock, such as possible market manipulation and insider trading.

Because the SEC knows that suspending trading in a stock can cause the security’s price to dramatically go down, it is very discriminating about issuing suspensions.

Microcap companies usually have low-priced stock, which trades in low volumes, and limited assets. A pump-and-dump scam is one of the most common types of securities fraud involving these firms. Scammers will issue misleading and false statements to promote a microcap stock that is lightly traded. After buying low and then inflating the stock price by making it appear as if there is a lot of market activity, fraudsters will dump the stock by selling it into the market at the higher rate and make huge profits in the process.

Investor Bulletins: Trading Suspension, SEC (PDF)

SEC Microcap Fraud-Fighting Initiative Expels 379 Dormant Shell Companies to Protect Investors From Potential Scams, SEC, May 14, 2012

More Blog Posts:
Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger Faces SEC Charges Over Pump-and-Dump Scam Involving Sports Drink Company, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 19, 2011
Business Man Pleads Guilty Plea in Florida Microcap Market Fraud Case, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 17, 2010
Pump & Dump Scam Alleged in $600 Million Lawsuit Against Law Firm Baker & McKenzie, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, April 13, 2011 Continue Reading ›

Federal officials say that Jean “Richard” Charbit has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud in connection with a South Florida stock scam involving the microcap market that was under investigation by an undercover FBI sting. Charbit is facing a maximum 5 years in prison.

He and defendant Tzemach David Netzer Korem are accused of trying to pay kickbacks to a stockbroker so they could use client accounts to buy shares from the defendants’ company. This made it look as if there was a demand for the instruments, which allowed the defendants to dump their holdings at inflated prices.

Charbit and Korem controlled or owned about 5.6 million shares of ZNext Mining Corp. (ZNXT). Charbit offered the “broker,” who was actually an FBI agent, $100,000 to misappropriate $300,000 from discretionary accounts to purchase common stock in ZNXT. Per the criminal complaint, the goal was to raise the individual common share price from 4 cents to 50 cents.

Eight other microcap stock promoters and market insiders have been charged with securities fraud related to this scheme. Some also are facing criminal charges. One of the persons charged in the microcap market fraud case is Larry Wilcox, the former star of the TV show “CHiPs.” As part of his plea agreement, he admitted to conspiring to defraud a pension plan of $40,000.

Related Web Resources:
SEC v. Jean R. Charbit and Tzemach David Netzer Korem, Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-23604-CMA (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida),
Stock scammer pleads guilty, South Florida Business Journal, November 1, 2010
Institutional Investor Securities Blog
Continue Reading ›

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