Tearing the veil on the classic 'pump and dump'


By Nick Savona, CFE, CFCS
“Nick

Case in Point: Case history applications

The Port of New York and New Jersey describes itself  as the "gateway to one of the most concentrated and affluent consumer markets in the world." As the East Coast's largest port, thousands of container ships have entered into its metropolitan harbor carrying billions of dollars worth of cargo. For several years, however, the Port — whose history evokes memories of organized crime, racketeering and corruption — also served as the hub for a $7 million market manipulation scheme, more commonly known as a "pump and dump."

In January 2010, a multi-agency task force, composed of federal and state law enforcement agencies, apprehended a corrupt longshoreman involved in cocaine trafficking at the Port. When law enforcement questioned him, the longshoreman said he knew of other criminal activities, including a fraudulent stock scheme in which a number of longshoremen had participated.

An ensuing federal investigation revealed an elaborate pump-and-dump scheme to artificially inflate the market activity of several publicly traded stocks through fraudulent stock tips on Internet websites and social media. Once the perpetrators had sufficiently inflated the targeted stocks, those involved in the scheme liquidated their shares at profit, which caused millions of dollars in losses to unsuspecting investors. In October 2010, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York charged 11 defendants in connection with the pump-and-dump scheme. (See Case No. 1-10-mj-02190.) Several defendants plead guilty with varying penalties of forfeiture and prison time.



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