The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) today issued a warning to investors about a sharp increase in e-mail linked to "pump-and-dump" stock schemes.
The investor alert entitled Inbox Alert - Don't Trade on Pump-And-Dump Stock E-mails notes that the latest McAfee Threats Report confirms a steep rise in spam e-mail linked to bogus "pump-and-dump" stock schemes designed to trick unsuspecting investors. These false claims could also be made on social media such as Facebook and Twitter as well as on bulletin boards and chat room pages.
"Investors should always be wary of unsolicited investment offers in the form of an e-mail from a stranger," said Lori Schock, Director of the SEC's Office of Investor Education and Advocacy. "The best response to investment spam is to hit delete."
"Spam e-mail is the bait used to lure people into making bad investment decisions. No one should ever make an investment based on the advice of an unsolicited email," said Cameron Funkhouser, Executive Vice President of FINRA's Office of Fraud Detection and Market Intelligence.
Pump-and-dump promoters frequently claim to have "inside" information about an impending development. Others may say they use an "infallible" system that uses a combination of economic and stock market data to pick stocks. These scams are the inbox equivalent of a boiler room sales operation, hounding investors with potentially false information about a company.
The fraudsters behind these scams stand to gain by selling their shares after the stock price is "pumped" up by the buying frenzy they create through the mass e-mail push. Once these fraudsters "dump" their shares by selling them and stop hyping the stock, investors lose their money or are left with worthless or near worthless stock.