Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA ) issued a new investor alert this week, Messaging Apps Are Latest Platform for Delivering Pump-And-Dump Scams, warning investors to be wary of investment schemes forwarded to them on the popular messaging platform WhatsApp.
Recently, there were messages forwarded on the WhatsApp platform, claiming that the stocks of the microcap company Avra Inc (OTC: AVRN) were set for double digit growth. FINRA’s Senior VP for Investor Education, Gerri Walsh warned that financial schemers are keeping up with times and leveraging popular technology platforms to bilk investors. In this instance, the financial prediction about AVRA stocks appeared to be coming from well-known brokerage firms.
In traditional pump and dump schemes, microcap stocks are artificially inflated by fraudsters through false and misleading statements, to sell their cheaply purchased stocks at a high price. Once all the overvalued stocks are “dumped” by them, the prices crash and investors lose their money. This latest Avra scam is a variation of the pump-and-dump, where they were trying to use the mass message push feature to inflate the price of the stock and then leave investors holding nearly worthless investments.
It is not only the penny stock and “pink sheet” markets, but Wall Street has had their fair share of pump-and-dumpers over the years. Aided by technology, it is becoming easier for fraudsters to hatch innovative fraudulent schemes. Following the advice of Mr. Walsh, it’s best to delete any such solicitations. FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective regulation and compliance and technology-based services.