The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday announced civil charges against three Indian men who allegedly manipulated Google “put options” and Sun Microsystems shares by using stolen log-ins to break into online brokerage accounts.
The trio set up accounts at lesser known online brokerage firms and bought large quantities of thinly traded securities, the prices of which are subject to wide price fluctuation. Among those securities was a 5-cents-per-share Google “put” option, essentially a bet that Google’s stock price would fall by 40 percent within the next two months.
They then broke into the online accounts and sold the portfolios to buy more put options, causing the price to increase to as much as 15 cents. The trio then sold the options they had bought at 5 cents per share, earning a double or triple profit.