2014 continues to be a banner year not just for the SEC but for criminal prosecutions of stock promoters for market manipulation. This case was filed almost a month ago so I apologize for the delay but wanted to make sure I posted it on this blog. See the SEC’s press release about its lawsuit and as well as the Department of Justice’s press release about the arrests.
Excerpt from DOJ PR:
The criminal cases charged the following individuals with conspiracy to commit securities fraud: Andrew J. Affa, 30, of Huntington Station, N.Y.; Michael A. Affa, 34, of Toms River, N.J.; Mitchell H. Brown, 48, of Long Branch, N.J.; Christopher R. Putnam, 37, of Charleston, S.C.; and Christopher G. Nix, 34, of Charleston, S.C. Andrew Affa, Michael Affa and Brown were also charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The SEC suit, likewise, charges all five individuals with securities fraud.
Andrew Affa, Michael Affa, and Brown are scheduled to appear in federal court in Boston on July 15 and Putnam and Nix are scheduled to appear on July 31.
It is alleged that in January and February 2014, the defendants attempted manipulation of Amogear’s stock was caught in real-time by a federal undercover operation. The SEC suspended trading in the securities of Amogear on Feb. 10, 2014, as the attempted manipulation of its stock was underway. According to the criminal and SEC charges, prior to the suspension of trading in the stock, the defendants planned and implemented a scheme to create a false appearance of an active market in the stock, followed by a false media campaign designed to increase the price of the stock, knowing that Amogear was a shell company without any real operations. The defendants allegedly planned to sell the stock into the market at artificially inflated prices from which they would profit. What the parties did not know was that Amogear was controlled by the FBI and used by the FBI as a vehicle to obtain evidence of their attempt to manipulate the market.
One of the most interesting things about this case is that the FBI’s confidential informant (CI) controlled the stock that was the subject of the alleged conspiracy. From the SEC complaint:
2. Amogear is a Nevada corporation based in Boston, Massachusetts. Amogear’s
stock is quoted under the ticker symbol “AMOG.” Amogear was listed and could trade
nationally on the over-the-counter (“OTC”) securities markets. Amogear was acquired and
controlled by the CI, who then worked in conjunction with the FBI in the undercover
investigation. Amogear only existed as a shell company, which is a company that can serve as a
vehicle for business transactions by other related companies or entities without itself having any
real assets or operations.
Christopher “Gabe” Nix’s Global Marketing Media LLC ran a number of websites and they generally one-day promotions so their pumps were always good to short. See the Promotion Stock Secrets article on Global Marketing Media. Some of the websites of Global Marketing Media LLC:
Andrew Affa owned Pennypickalerts.com (it has since been sold to another promoter).