U.S. authorities brought charges in an alleged boiler room scheme that generated more than US$14 million in illegal profits, including US$7.8 million from manipulative trading in a Canadian firm.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced on Wednesday that it brought fraud charges against 13 individuals that, it alleges, were involved in two U.S.-based cold-calling scams that bilked more than one hundred victims out of more than US$10 million through "high-pressure sales tactics and lies about penny stocks." Many of the alleged victims of the schemes were seniors, it notes.
The SEC's complaint, which was filed in federal district court in Brooklyn, N.Y., charges all defendants with fraud, and nine of them with market manipulation. The SEC is seeking permanent injunctions, disgorgement with interest, civil penalties, penny stock bars, and an officer-and-director bar from one of the alleged orchestrators of the scheme.
At the same time, a nine-count criminal indictment was also unsealed this morning in federal court against 14 defendants that were allegedly involved in the schemes. The list of charges brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York includes: conspiracy to commit securities fraud; conspiracy to commit wire fraud; conspiracy to commit money laundering; and securities fraud in connection with the stock manipulation of five publicly traded companies, including Toronto-based, Intelligent Content Enterprises, Inc., which trades under the ticker symbol ICEIF.
According to the SEC's complaint, the trading in Canadian firm, ICEIF, generated at least US$7.8 million in illegal profits, as one of the accused, "co-ordinated the trading of large quantities of ICEIF shares in Canadian brokerage accounts in the names of several foreign entities."
None of the allegations have been proven.
"As alleged, the defendants designed an elaborate, fraudulent scheme, to defraud the investing public, preying, in particular, upon unsuspecting and elderly investors. Specifically, the defendants obtained shares from corporate insiders at below-market prices and engaged in manipulative trading patterns to drive up the price of the shares, while aggressively and repeatedly calling and emailing victims to purchase those shares," said Bridget Rohde, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.