In a scene reminiscent of a spy thriller, two individuals from British Columbia, Zhiying Yvonne Gasarch and Jackson Friesen, were held accountable by a Boston federal jury for their roles in a staggering $144 million penny stock scam. This convoluted case spun a web of shell companies, encrypted communications, and James Bond-style aliases.
Key Players in a Covert Operation
While initial impressions may have painted Gasarch and Friesen as mere cogs in this intricate machine, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) painted a different picture in its closing statements. Gasarch, who went by the intriguing code name “wires” and held the title of “master of finance”, alongside Friesen, a stock promoter pocketing a cool $11 million, were depicted as central figures in the orchestration led by the alleged ringleader, Frederick Sharp.
Comparative to a puppet master pulling strings in the shadows, Sharp’s organization leased phantom shell companies. These companies were then utilized by individuals like Friesen to buy up the majority of a company’s stocks, inflate their values through promotions, and subsequently release the shares for hefty profits.