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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Internet Stock Scheme Busted, SEC Says

BROOKLYN (CN) - The SEC says it has broken up a scheme in which "unknown traders" stole identities from people who applied for jobs at Craig's List, then used their personal information to open online brokerage accounts in their names. The scam raked in $66,000 in seven weeks, the SEC claims in Federal Court.

The unknown defendants advertised a job on Craig's List in February 2007, offering a job in a bogus Latvian brokerage house, AWE Trading, the SEC says. Applicants had to provide their Social Security numbers and birthdays, for "background checks." The unknown defendants used that information to open online trading accounts at Interactive Brokers, without the suckers' knowledge, the complaint states.

The Commission says the unknown defendants somehow gained online access to accounts held by customers of "various retail brokerage firms," and simultaneously bought and sold the same shares in the accounts they had opened fraudulently, "profiting from the change in trading volume and stock prices generated by the unauthorized transactions."

The SEC says Interactive Brokers suspended trading and froze funds in the suspicious accounts in April 2007, and cooperated in the federal investigation. Interactive is named as a relief defendant because it still holds cash and securities from the scheme, the Commission said.

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