The Securities and Exchange Commission has suspended trading in securities of 35 companies suspected to be spammers as part of a new effort, "Operation Spamalot," to shut down potentially fraudulent spam hyping small company stocks with phrases such as "Ready to Explode," "Ride the Bull" and "Fast Money."
The SEC has estimated that 100 million of these messages are sent weekly and that they trigger "dramatic spikes" in share price and trading volume before the spamming stops and investors lose their money.
"When spam clogs our mailboxes, it's annoying," SEC Chairman Christopher Cox was quoted as saying in a release. "When it rips off investors, it's illegal and destructive.. Today's trading suspensions, and actions that will follow, should send a clear message to spammers: The SEC will hold you accountable."
The SEC's statement gave examples of how spam campaigns have affected recent stock prices and trading volume:
"On Friday, Dec. 15, 2006, shares in Apparel Manufacturing Associates, Inc. (APPM) closed at $.06, with a trading volume of 3,500 shares. After a weekend spam campaign distributed e-mails proclaiming, "Huge news expected out on APPM, get in before the wire, We're taking it all the way to $1.00," trading volume on Monday, Dec. 18, 2006, hit 484,568 shares with the price spiking to over 19 cents a share. Two days later the price climbed to $.45. By Dec. 27, 2006, the price was back down to $.10 on trading volume of 65,350 shares.â¢ On Dec. 19, 2006, trading in Goldmark Industries, Inc. (GDKI), closed at $.17 on trading volume of 126,286 shares. On Dec. 20, 2006, the spam campaign started, with e-mail proclaiming "GDKI IS MAKING EVERYONE BANK!," and setting a 5-day price target of $2. By Dec. 28, 2006, spam e-mails boasted of the price spike that had already been achieved -- "$.28 (Up 152% in 2 days!!!)" -- and promised a 5-day price target of $1. That same day, GDKI closed at $.35 on a volume of more than 5 million shares. By January 9, 2007, the closing share price was back down to $.15.â¢ A spam campaign in Healtheuniverse, Inc. (HLUN) stock began on Sept. 4, 2006, with e-mails incorporating a Healtheuniverse press release proclaiming that HLUN was "focused on being the first to commercialize stem cell applications in the $15 billion worldwide plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery market." On Sept. 7, 2006, HLUN closed at $.12 per share on trading volume of 3,000 shares. The spam campaign accelerated, and HLUN shares spiked to $.22 per share on Sept. 11, 2006, with over 2.2 million shares trading hands. By Sept. 22, 2006, the closing price had dropped back down to $.11."
The suspensions were enacted on the morning of March 8. The trading suspensions will last 10 business days, ending 11:59 p.m. EDT on March 21.
These are the companies whose trading the SEC has suspended:
"Advanced Powerline Technologies Inc. (APWL), America Asia Petroleum Corp. (AAPM), Amerossi Int'l Group, Inc. (AMSN), Apparel Manufacturing Associates, Inc. (APPM), Asgard Holdings Inc. (AGHG), Biogenerics Ltd. (BIGN), China Gold Corp. (CGDC), CTR Investments & Consulting, Inc. (CIVX), DC Brands International, Inc. (DCBI), Equal Trading, Inc. (EQTD), Equitable Mining Corp. (EQBM), Espion International, Inc. (EPLJ), Goldmark Industries, Inc. (GDKI), GroFeed Inc. (GFDI), Healtheuniverse, Inc. (HLUN), Interlink Global Corp. (ILKG), Investigative Services Agencies, Inc. (IVAY), iPackets International, Inc. (IPKL), Koko Petroleum Inc. (KKPT), Leatt Corporation (LEAT), LOM Logistics, Inc. (LOMJ), Modern Energy Corp. (MODR), National Healthcare Logistics, Inc. (NHLG), Presidents Financial Corp. (PZFC), Red Truck Entertainment Inc. (RTRK), Relay Capital Corp. (RLYC), Rodedawg International Industries, Inc. (RWGI), Rouchon Industries, Inc. (RCHN), Software Effective Solutions Corp. (SFWJ), Solucorp Industries Ltd. (SLUP), Sports-stuff.com Inc. (SSUF), UBA Technology, Inc. (UBTG), Wataire Industries Inc. (WTAF), WayPoint Biomedical Holdings, Inc. (WYPH), and Wineco Productions Inc. (WNCP)."Any broker-dealer, investor, or other person with information relating to the matter is invited to contact the SEC at firstname.lastname@example.org.