How the COVID-19 pandemic fuelled a boom in Canadian stock promotion scams – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – December 31, 2020)

Cromwell Coulson, the CEO of New York-based stock trading platform OTC Markets Group, is getting sick and tired of trying to stomp out Canadian stock promotion scams.

OTC plays host to more than 10,000 early-stage speculative stocks and every day it publishes a list of companies it has identified as running misleading stock promotions. In 2019, 30 per cent of troubling campaigns were by Canadian companies.

But since the global outbreak of COVID-19 last winter, there has been a boom in pump and dump scams, in which shady promoters use any means necessary to push up the price of a company’s shares, then sell their stakes at huge profits just before the stock collapses.

Those promoters often focus on a hot sector, be it mining, bitcoin, cannabis – and now, bogus coronavirus therapies.

This year, 44 per cent of problematic promos on the OTC were spearheaded by Canadians. One day in September, they made up all 10 of the stocks the platform flags daily as the most suspect.

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