SEC charges 16 people involve in $194 million “pump-and-dump” stock manipulation scheme

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Image source; FBI.gov

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed charges against 16 individuals for their involvement in a global pump-and-dump stock manipulation scheme that generated $194 million in illegal profits.

According to the SEC, the defendants are located in the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Monaco, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

In three separate complaints, the SEC alleged that all of the defendants violated the antifraud and registration provisions of the federal securities laws.

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In the first complaint, the federal securities regulator identified the defendants as Dean Shah, Henry Clarke, Julius Csurgo, and Antevorta Capital Partners, Ltd. These defendants allegedly purposely engaged in a pump-and-dump scheme involving penny stocks issued by microcap companies.

They carried out their scheme by concealing the fact that they held large, controlling positions in thinly-traded microcap companies. They hired stock promoters to increase demand for their penny stocks, and then generate substantial profits by selling their shares illegally to unsuspecting investors.

Shah, Clarke, Csurgo, and Antevorta Capital Partners manipulated stock prices and defrauded investors from 2013 to 2018, according to the complaint.

In the second complaint, the SEC identified the defendants as Ronald Bauer, Craig James Auringer, Aron Friedlander, Massimiliano Pozzoni, Daniel Mark Ferris, Petar Dimitrov Mihaylov, David Sidoo, and Adam Christopher Kambeitz.

These defendants allegedly participated in the pump-and-dump of stocks of at least 17 publicly-traded companies on the United States markets.

Bauer, Sidoo, and their co-conspirators executed their pump-and-dump schemes with the help of off-shore financial firms to hide their control of shares and collective activities related to a certain microcap company. They also used front companies to hide their coordinated efforts from brokers and transfer agents who would have treated their shares as restricted stock, which could not be freely purchased, sold, or transferred in the retail market.

They committed their scheme to defraud investors from 2006 to 2020, amassing more than $145 million in illegal profits.

In the third complaint, the SEC identified the defendants as Domenic Calbrigo, Curtis Lehner, Hasan Sario, and Courtney Vasseur. These defendants carried out their pump-and-dump scheme, following a similar pattern from 2016 to 2018.

In a statement, SEC Division of Enforcement Gurbir Grewal noted that the defendants “orchestrated some of the most complex microcap stock fraud schemes… However, investigative teams from three SEC offices doggedly kept on their trail, working across borders, and ended this alleged global scheme.”

Securities regulators and other law enforcement agencies in more than 20 countries helped the SEC in its investigations that led to the charges against the defendants. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York filed parallel criminal cases against the defendants.

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