Getting Cleaned by Oil Spill Stock Scams

Getting Cleaned by Oil Spill Stock Scams

I doubt you have missed the news about the oil spill mess in the Gulf of Mexico. The scammers have clearly noticed and sense an opportunity to make a quick buck.

Some companies may issue press releases, or send unsolicited faxes or spam emails that might include:

  • Claims to have products or technologies that are effective in remediating oil spills or restoring the eco-system
  • Mention of contracts or expected contracts with BP, formerly British Petroleum, that will aid the cleanup effort
  • Claims that the company is providing technical assistance or expertise to BP or to U.S. government agencies such as the Coast Guard or the Environmental Protection Agency

One of the first identified scam enforcement actions, the SEC suspended the trading in ACT Clean Technologies.

The Commission temporarily suspended trading in the securities of ACT because of questions that have been raised about the accuracy and adequacy of publicly disseminated information concerning, among other things: (1) British Petroleum's purported expression of interest in using a so-called oil fluidizer technology purportedly licensed to ACT's wholly-owned subsidiary, American Petroleum Solutions, Inc., for use in cleanup operations in the Gulf of Mexico, and its purported request that field tests be conducted on the oil fluidizer technology; and (2) the purported results of field tests finding that the oil fluidizers are effective for use in cleanup efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.

Many of these "investment opportunities" are classic pump-and-dump schemes. Early investors pay people to generate publicity  intended to increase demand for company stock and drive up the stock price. They use spam emails, investor bulletin boards, blogs, Twitter and any of the myriad of social networking platforms. When prices rise, the insiders or third party scammers sell their shares and let the price drop.

Other stocks involved are MOP Environmental Solutions and Green Bridge Industries.

Complaints can be filed on FINRA's website or on the SEC's website. You can also call the National Center for Disaster Fraud's special oil-spill hotline if you suspect an oil spill scam: 1-866-720-5721.

The Financial Times is reporting that the assets of BP executives are being used instead of the typical dead banker emails from Nigeria.

I am the private solicitor for Mr Tony Hayward, the esteemed Chairman and Chief executive of British Petroleum. My client has various personal and family related holdings of BP stock and options. Due to his faithful long standing service to BP the total value of his holdings amounts to in excess of 100m pounds sterling. Mr Heywood is a British citizen but it has been my sorrowful duty to advise him that his personal and family wealth is at great risk of being wrongfully confiscated by US authorities acting extra-territorially under special powers authorised by the US government and with the secret consent of a supine UK political and legal establishment.

Sources: [please see Doug Cornelius' original post for a full list of sources]

For additional commentary on developments in compliance and ethics, visit Compliance Building, a blog hosted by Doug Cornelius.