Articles Posted in Pump and Dump Scams

In its first customer protection advisory regarding pump-and-dump scams involving virtual currencies, tokens, or digital coins, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission cautioned that even seasoned investors could be targeted. The regulator recommended that customers do a good job of researching prospective investments, learn the signs of possible investment fraud, and stay away from investments that “they don’t fully understand.”

Pump-and-dump scams typically involve raising the demand for a stock, and as a result, its share price, before dumping whatever shares are left so that the stock price drops. Remaining investors are left with practically worthless stock while the fraudsters usually have made a profit from dumping (selling) their shares when the stock price was still high. The CFTC is cautioning that this same fraud is now being used with virtual currencies.

Online message boards, mobile messaging applications, and other new technologies are now taking the place of boiler rooms to handle the solicitation of money from prospective investors, with some chat rooms holding thousands of members. It is also that fake news about these virtual investments is being published.

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Industrial Enterprises of America Inc. (IEAM) is accusing Baker & McKenzie, LLP and former partner Martin Weisberg of securities fraud. The $600 million lawsuit, filed in US Bankruptcy Court, accuses the defendants of setting up a legal structure that allowed for an illegal pump-and-dump scheme and causing the company to sustain $150 million in losses and investors to lose $450 million. Facing criminal fraud charges over the scam are Weisberg and ex-CEOs John D. Mazutto and James W. Margulies.

Industrial Enterprises of America says that Weisberg was the one who helped set up its 2004 stock option plan, which provided for the issuance of restricted shares to employees, consultants, and outside directors. Rather than rewarding the Pittsburgh chemical company’s employees, the strategy was to use “print money” for company executives, their girlfriends, and lawyers.

The plaintiff says that since Weisberg was the beneficiary of the sale of the stock, which was improperly issued, the law firm ignored what was going on while helping IEAM officials steal from the company. Industrial Enterprises of America also contends that there were false and misleading SEC and NASDAQ filings and internal corporate malfeasances were set up to “raid the company of its working capital.”

One year after Industrial Enterprises of America filed for bankruptcy in May 2009, Mazzuto was charged over the allegedly $60 million stock fraud scam. He is accused of issuing shares worth tens of millions of dollars to relatives, friends, and other people he personally knows, which fraudulently inflated the value of the stock.

An indictment said that an attorney trust account that Margulies opened received the most company shares—3.5 million shares that he sold for $17.7 million. About $13 million went back to Industrial Enterprises of America. The remaining funds went to accounts that he and Mazzuto controlled.

Industrial Enterprises of America says that Mazzuto personally made $15 million from the stock scam, Margulies gained $6 million, and Baker & McKenzie earned over $1.7 million in fees. The plaintiff wants restitution for the full value of the shares that were improperly issued, as well as compensation for unspecified damages.

Related Web Resources:

Baker & McKenzie Sued for $600 Million for Role in Chemical Company Demise, Bloomberg, April 11, 2011

Baker & McKenzie Sued For $600 Mln Over ‘Pump And Dump’ Scheme, Morningstar, December 4, 2011

More Blog Posts:
FBI Arrests Texas Leader of Pump-and-Dump Scheme, Texas Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 23, 2011

Ex-Gilford Securities Broker Indicted in International Stock Fraud Scam Involving Pump and Dump of Israeli and Chinese Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 19, 2011

Alleged Pump and Dump Stock Manipulation Scam Leads to Indictment of Six, Including a Securities Attorney, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, February 27, 2011

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An indictment has been unsealed today accusing six people of securities fraud in a stock manipulation scam that bilked investors between 2003 and 2008. The Securities and Exchange Commission has also filed a civil complaint related to this case.

The defendants are securities attorney Michael Simon Krome, Jonathan Randall Curshen, Robert Lloyd Weidenbaum, Ronald Salazar Morales, Izhack Zigdon, and Eric Ariav Weinbaum. They are accused of illegally manipulating stock prices in a pump and dump scam.

Per the indictment, Weinbaum and Zigdon allegedly took charge of the outstanding shares of CO2 Tech, a company that traded in the over-the-counter market through Pink Sheet listings. They are said to have gotten the shares by hiring Krome, who allegedly took action to avoid federal securities registration requirements so that his co-conspirators would get millions of “free-trading” CO2 Tech shares that were unregistered and otherwise could not have been legally obtained. The shares were then allegedly sold to the general public through Sentry Global’s stock trading floor. Curshen was the principal of Sentry Global Securities and Red Sea Management, which are both based on Costa Rica.

Weinbaum and Zigdon are accused of paying Weidenbaum about $1 million to take part in bogus CO2 stock trades to make it seem as if actual investors were purchasing them. False press releases were also allegedly issued to make it seem as if CO2 Tech had substantial business prospects. After “pumping” the market price and demand, the defendants would “dump” the shares by selling them for substantial profit through the Pink Sheet listings. Frequently, these shares were practically worthless.

Related Web Resources:
Securities Attorney, Five Others Indicted In Stock Manipulation Scheme,, February 21, 2011

Securities Attorney and Five Others Indicted for Conspiracy, Wire Fraud, and Mail Fraud in Stock Manipulation Scheme, FBI, February 18, 2011

More Blog Posts:
Ex-Gilford Securities Broker Indicted in International Stock Fraud Scam Involving Pump and Dump of Israeli and Chinese Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 19, 2011

Pump and Dump Scheme Involving Prime Time Stores Inc. Sends Global Spam Levels Up 30%, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, September 5, 2007

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