Monday, August 11, 2014

SEC Charges Four Promoters with Manipulating Marijuana-Related Stocks and Other Microcap Companies

The SEC charged four promoters with ties to the Pacific Northwest for manipulating the securities of several microcap companies, including marijuana-related stocks that the agency has warned investors about in recent weeks.
The SEC alleges that the four promoters bought inexpensive shares of thinly traded penny stock companies on the open market and conducted pre-arranged, manipulative matched orders and wash trades to create the illusion of an active market in these stocks.  They then sold their shares in coordination with aggressive promotional campaigns that urged investors to buy the stocks because the prices were on the verge of rising substantially.  However, these companies had little to no business operations at the time. The promoters reaped more than $2.5 million in illegal profits through their schemes.
Two of the companies manipulated in this case – GrowLife Inc. and Hemp Inc. – claim to be related to the medical marijuana industry.  The SEC has issued an investor alert warning about possible scams involving marijuana-related investments, noting that fraudsters often exploit the latest growth industries to lure investors into stock manipulation schemes.  Other schemes by these four promoters involved an oil-and-gas company – Riverdale Oil and Gas Corporation – and three other microcap stocks, ISM International, Allied Products Corp, and Aden Solutions.

The SEC was able to unearth the schemes through the work of its recently created Microcap Fraud Task Force. 
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