Ponzi Schemes and Stock Manipulations of the Day

Florida money manager Michael Riolo, 37, of Boca Raton, raked in $44 million from investors in a Ponzi scheme, U.S. prosecutors said on Thursday.

From Reuters: Riolo used two companies he owned, Sterling Wentworth Currency Group, Inc and LaSalle International Clearing Corp, to purportedly trade futures contracts in the yen, euro, Swiss franc and other currencies, said a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in south Florida.

He issued “materially false statements” to persuade more than 80 investors to commit at least $44 million from 1999 to 2008, prosecutors said.

Riolo issued monthly statements that falsely reported trading profits and increasing account balances and allegedly distributed more than $29.5 million to investors as a return of principal and profits when most of it came directly from new investors, prosecutors said.

Riolo faces up to 20 years in prison on each count.

For you newbs out there this is a must read:

From The SEC: The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged eight participants in a penny stock manipulation ring that allegedly pumped the market prices of at least four stocks and generated more than $6.2 million in illicit profits when they dumped shares on the market.

The SEC alleges that Pawel Dynkowski, who resided in Newark, Del., carried out the market manipulation schemes with others he met through a penny stock web site InvestorsHub.com, which is operated by Matthew Brown of Aliso Viejo, Calif. Dynkowski, Brown, and other participants in the schemes often timed the manipulative trading to coincide with false or misleading press releases issued by the companies to hype the stock. The four companies were GH3 International, Inc., Asia Global Holdings, Inc., Playstar Corp., and Xtreme Motorsports of California, Inc.

According to the SEC’s complaint, these fraudulent schemes generally followed the same pattern. In 2006 and 2007, Dynkowski and his accomplices received large blocks of shares to sell for the penny stock companies, and they received a portion of the proceeds from those sales. The companies put these shares in nominee accounts that Dynkowski and his accomplices controlled. The defendants pumped the market price of the stocks using wash sales, matched orders and other manipulative trading. After artificially inflating the market price of the stocks, Dynkowski and his accomplices then dumped the shares obtained from the issuers and divided the illicit proceeds.

For example, in the scheme involving Asia Global stock, the SEC alleges that Dynkowski personally saw to it that the manipulative trading was coordinated with misleading press releases from the company, and in some instances he wrote the press releases for Asia Global himself. According to the SEC’s complaint, Dynkowski instructed Brown on Aug. 24, 2006, to have Asia Global issue a press release hyping the company’s second quarter 2006 financial results and to “make it sound ENORMOUS.” On September 1, Asia Global issued a press release claiming that its profits for July 2006 were 745 percent greater than its profits for July 2005. Meanwhile, during that same week, Dynkowski and Brown sold 7.75 million shares from nominee accounts, resulting in illicit profits of more than $1.3 million.

Furthermore, according to the SEC’s complaint, Asia Global issued a press release on Feb. 6, 2007, claiming that its subsidiary had just received a license to produce 104 episodes of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” in China. The volume of trading in Asia Global increased by more than 65 percent, and Dynkowski and Brown, through orders submitted to Mangiapane and Riviello, were able to sell approximately 5.5 million shares held in nominee accounts, representing approximately 25 percent of the total volume that day. From February 2 through February 8, Dynkowski and Brown, through orders submitted to Mangiapane and Riviello, sold approximately 24.5 million shares held in nominee accounts, making illegal profits of more than $1.2 million.

Full release here »

emphasis added

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