The Securities and Exchange Commission has continued its assault on stock market e-mail spam by suspending trading in the securities of three companies that haven't provided adequate and accurate information about themselves to the investing public.
The trading suspensions are part of the Commission's Anti-Spam Initiative announced earlier this year that cuts the profit potential for stock-touting spam and is credited for a significant worldwide reduction of financial spam. A recent private-sector Internet security report stated that a 30 percent decrease in stock market spam "was triggered by actions taken by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which limited the profitability of this type of spam."
In addition, spam-related complaints to the SEC's Online Complaint Center have been cut in half.
"The SEC is moving aggressively against stock market spam that has been clogging our e-mail inboxes for too long," said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox. "Because of our aggressive enforcement efforts, there has been a reported 30 percent drop in financial spam, and that means fewer investors are getting ripped off."
Since the March 8, 2007 launch of its Anti-Spam Initiative to combat spam-driven stock market manipulations, the Commission has suspended trading in the securities of 39 companies and has brought several spam-related enforcement actions.
Mark K. Schonfeld, Director of the Commission's New York Regional Office, said that these trading suspensions "exemplify our firm commitment to protecting investors from stock fraud and spam e-mail. Investors are entitled to accurate and adequate information about public companies, and we will take strong action promptly when companies fail to fulfill this obligation."
These most recent trading suspensions pertain to the securities of Alliance Transcription Services, Inc. (ATSS), Prime Petroleum Group, Inc. (PPGU), and T.W. Christian, Inc. (TWCI). The companies are recent successors to Strategy X, Inc., Pinnacle Development, Inc. and Xraymedia, Inc., respectively. Each of the companies changed its name on Aug. 14, 2007, is currently quoted under a new ticker symbol, and purports to have a new business. The companies, all of which trade on the Pink Sheets, are susceptible to spam stock promotions because they have inadequately disclosed their assets, business operations and/or management, their current financial condition, and/or financing arrangements involving the issuance of the companies' shares.
The trading suspensions, which will last for 10 business days, began on October 4 at 9:30 a.m. EDT and will terminate at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Oct. 17, 2007.
The success of the SEC's Anti-Spam initiative is described in the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, a semi-annual analysis and discussion of online threat activity during the previous six-month period. The most recent report was released Sept. 17, 2007. The SEC's efforts are cited on page 107 of the report:
"Spam related to financial services made up 21 percent of all spam in the first six months of 2007, making it the second most common type of spam during this period. The previous edition of the Internet Security Threat Report reported that Symantec had detected an increase in spam related to the financial services sector over the last six months of 2006. This was primarily due to an abundance of stock market "pump and dump" spam. However, in the current period, there has been a 30 percent decline in this type of spam from the previous period. This is due to a decline in spam touting penny stocks that was triggered by actions taken by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, which limited the profitability of this type of spam by suspending trading of the stocks that are touted."
The SEC Division of Enforcement's Online Complaint Center similarly indicates a 30 percent decrease in spam-related complaints during the same 12-month period, with complaints dropping from more than one million complaints during the final six months of 2006 to 727,313 during the first 6 months of 2007. Moreover, while the Online Complaint Center received 166,741 complaints in February 2007 before the SEC unveiled its anti-spam initiative in March, the number of complaints about financial spam dropped to 67,785 last month - a nearly 60 percent decrease.
The Online Complaint Center can be reached at [email protected]. The SEC's Office of Investor Education and Assistance has information for investors and members of the general public on topics directly related to this action by the SEC.
Any broker, dealer or other person with information relating to this matter is invited to e-mail the Securities and Exchange Commission at [email protected].