You know those irritating spam emails urging you to buy shares which “will rise dramatically NOW”, “will explode in value”, among others? Apparently, such methods to showcase your shares to the public are illegal according to the US SEC (emphasis mine);
The trading suspensions are part of a stepped-up SEC effort – code named “Operation Spamalot” – to protect investors from potentially fraudulent spam email hyping small company stocks with phrases like, “Ready to Explode,” “Ride the Bull,” and “Fast Money.” It’s estimated that 100 million of these spam messages are sent every week, triggering dramatic spikes in share price and trading volume before the spamming stops and investors lose their money.
“When spam clogs our mailboxes, it’s annoying. When it rips off investors, it’s illegal and destructive,” said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox. “Today’s trading suspensions, and actions that will follow, should send a clear message to spammers: the SEC will hold you accountable.”
The linked press release also names all the companies implicated in this operation and they are from a wide variety of industries including financial services, oil and gas, technology and biotechnology.
One thing that draw concern from me is that the SEC may be indirectly providing corporations with a new weapon for corporate warfare. They could now potentially hire spam houses to tout the shares of competitors, with the malicious intention of getting their shares suspended.
I doubt that I’m the only one, or even the first one to come up with this potential scenario. Heck, somebody might already be implementing this right now. Nevertheless, it’ll be interesting to see the consequences of this ruling on the US market.