Courtney Vasseur, a British Columbia Hells Angels member, and former Canadian Football League player David Sidoo are among 16 people accused of perpetrating a sprawling international pump-and-dump scam that lasted more than a decade and bilked investors out of an alleged US$194-million.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York are alleging that the defendants, almost half of which are Canadian citizens, manipulated the share prices of scores of U.S. penny stock companies over a period of about 15 years.
U.S. authorities alleged the defendants amassed controlling positions in worthless shell companies, and used stock promoters to pump up the shares to artificially high levels. Taking advantage of the huge spikes, the defendants pocketed millions at a time by cashing out at the top.
Once the phony promotions ended, the share prices of the companies crashed, leaving ordinary investors holding worthless shares. The accused worked in the shadows, U.S. authorities said, by using aliases, communicating using encrypted messages and stashing money in offshore accounts.
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