Fraud, Swindles and the American Way
Eric Stevenson - Axcess
The year was
1982, it was a Saturday in Seattle Washington and the sun was just
coming up when I was woken from a sound sleep by loud banging on
my front door. When I answered it, there stood a giant of a man
in blue jeans and a western shirt. Seeing him was intimidating in
itself as he was very broad in the shoulders and you couldn't help
but think, if wanted to, he could break your jaw with one blow.
I stood there
for a second then said, "yes, can I help you"? He looked
down at his worn boots for a moment, scruffed one of them around
slightly as if grinding out a cigarette, then he looked up at me
and his jaw started quivering as he said in a quiet, almost shy
voice, "Mr. Stevenson, I saw your article on that company my
broker sent me and I was just driving through and thought you ought
to know, I lost 0 dollars on that stock and well, that was all
the savings I had. I was gonna buy my daughter some braces for her
teeth and I lost all of it. What do I do now?"
Over the years
I never forgot that truck driver. There's been thousands of people
just like him who trusted in some stock tip and lost their money.
Regulators are burdened with complaints every day and most are never
followed up on, usually because of thin budgets and limited manpower.
With the advent of the Internet, today's stock touts have even more
tools at their disposal then they did in the 1980's when penny stock
brokerage firms flourished and the rules were lax in comparison
have been attempting to stop fraud, but not until the fall of Enron
and Arthur Andersen did they do anything about. Even then, its the
largest violators they're going after. The Securities and Exchange
Commission has had its hands full as well, facing pressures from
capital hill as new rules on corporate governance have been taking
effect. Still, little has been done in support of the common man
in penny stock schemes and swindles.
Like that truck
driver, a young man in Florida who was swindled in a penny stock
scheme while going to school decided to do something about it. He
went to the authorities and filed a complaint. Surprisingly it did
no good. One of the staff members he spoke to told him they would
accept his complaint, but most likely nothing would come of it,
as individual complaints usually never get to prosecution due to
budget constraints and manpower. He felt helpless and then decided
he would do something about it. No, he didn't ask me to help. I
press release he'd made and decided to contact him for an interview.
His name is
Ian Park. Mr. Park is trying to launch a nationwide campaign he
dubbed "Project Penny", to push for legislation
that would require regulation of the over-the-counter market, commonly
referred to as the "Pink Sheets". His web site is www.otcfraud.com
and we're going to give Mr. Park our help and we encourage all our
readers to visit Ian's site and send him an email giving him their
support. If you have any stories of being swindled in penny stocks,
let Ian know, it may aide him in getting regulators to listen.
I talked to
Mr. Park about Project Penny and while I was skeptical at
first, given his age and lack of experience, after listening to
him I came away thinking more American's should be like him and
speak out. Some times if you speak loud enough, people listen.
These men listened
to Mr. Park! Read the excerpts from the email he received below:
Cromwell Coulson, Chairman & CEO, Pink Sheets, LLC;
"I agree that it is important for regulators to review the
rules applying to OTC trading as part of the BBX becoming a listed
exchange and there are areas which should be improved immediately,
such as the immediate need for short position reporting and disclosure
for all OTC equities, but more importantly, regulators should put
in place a process to deal with needs that arise over time."
Goodenow, Securities and Exchange Commission Division
of Enforcement, X-Senior Counsel (1995);
"You are an important voice for progress in this unhappy time in
the capital markets. My problem with your advocacy, as described
below, is that under applicable ethical rules, a lawyer cannot take
a position adversary to his clients. I fear I would do so, if I
embraced your effort. Recall by the way, that I was the first SEC
alumni to call for Mr. Pitt's resignation, and he has done so. Life
is amazing! warmest regards."
Oxley, Member of Congress;
"Thank you for contacting me. As you suggest, microcap stocks have
always attracted more securities fraudsters than other segments
of the capital markets and thus deserve appropriate scrutiny."
your offer to provide your company's findings to the Financial Services
Committee. I look forward to reviewing that information when it
many thanks for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to do so again
in the future."
You will note
there is no email link to Congressman Oxley as he had written a
How about Mr.
Coulson, Chairman of the Pink Sheets comment? "Regulators should
put in place a process to deal with needs that arise over time!"
Wow! Can you believe that guy? It sounds like he's saying,
"sure, there's problems, but wait a while before doing something
about it, I'm making money and need those companies to list in the
Pink Sheets. If they regulate it and require disclosure, then why
would they list in the Pink Sheets at all?" Don't you get that
impression from his comments? Hey! I didn't say it, Mr. Coulson
Mr. Park couldn't
get attention from regulators when he was swindled, but since he
started his grass roots campaign, Project Penny, some influential
people have taken notice. He has some very good ideas and is planning
to go to Washington DC and present those ideas to the Financial
Services Committee. Lets hope they give Mr. Park the attention he
Ian Park isn't
alone, many Americans have felt his frustrations and would like
to see the laws enforced but when their own complaints went unresolved
they did nothing about it. Here's their chance to be heard. Ian
Park needs your support. If you think you've been swindled in some
penny stock scheme or your in agreement with Mr. Park that the rules
need to be changed, share your story or opinion with him by sending
him an email. Visit his site and let him know you read about it
in Axcess Business News and join his email list so you get
updates on his progress!
driver who lost 0 bucks? I wrote him a check and told him to
stick to driving trucks! His daughter by the way has a beautiful
smile and has a daughter of her own now! He sends me pictures!
web sites of interest to this commentary:
Stock Patrol is very informative. They report on various scams,
bad-boy brokers and have a sharp voice when it comes to suspicious
stock promotions they find. Good reading, gets four stars from us.
We liked the site and its content so much, we may be adding them
to our list of Partner Sites and their own prominent place on our
Stock page to list excerpts of their latest news!
This web site belongs to a longtime advocate of securities reform,
Mr. Bill Singer. Mr. Singer is a partner with the law firm of Gusrae,
Kaplan & Bruno, PLLC in New York, NY. Mr. Singer is a what I
call a "rebel in a three piece suit".
He's an advocate
of securities reform and a founder of a grass roots movement to
reform the NASD. Mr. Singer is a practicing securities attorney
and highly regarded in his field.
A known commentator
who has appeared on CNNFN, Axcess Business News has offered
Mr. Singer a regular column in our news portal. We'll alert our
readers of Mr. Singer's new column - if he accepts our offer!
the grass roots movement to reform the NASD:
NASD Member Firms Prepare For Contested Board Election
sites pertaining to Stock Fraud:
Information and links for helping investors recover losses due to
broker misconduct, fraud, unsuitable investments and bad advice.
Fraud: How to avoid Internet scams
While legitimate online newsletters can help investors gather valuable
information, some online newsletters are tools for fraud (SEC Web
Provides information to investors to help identify, fight and end
on Micro-Cap Stock Fraud - NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL.
REPORT ON MICRO-CAP STOCK FRAUD. ... This report represents the
current state of micro-cap stock fraud as practiced in New York.
We'll be following
Project Penny's story. Look for news alerts in Axcess Business
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