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1/25/2007
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SEC Charges Second Man In Online Break-In Pump 'N' Dump Scam

The alleged swindle is identical to one uncovered by the agency in December.

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday charged a 21-year-old Florida man with breaking into numerous online brokerage accounts, then liquidating their portfolios to fund a pump 'n' dump stock scam.

During a five-week span in the summer of 2006, investigators said Aleksey Kamardin of Tampa, Fla., made more than $82,000 by using funds in multiple compromised accounts at Charles Schwab, E-Trade, JPMorgan, TD Ameritrade, and other online brokers to buy shares in lightly traded companies. Those purchases gave the illusion of increased legitimate trading, which raised the stock's price. Kamardin then sold the shares he had purchased earlier; the account holder saw the prices of the manipulated stocks fall sharply.

In a traditional pump 'n' dump scheme, the fraudster touts a company's stock through large-scale spam campaigns that pump up the price by duping recipients into buying. The scammer than sells his shares at a profit.

Kamardin's alleged scam is identical to one uncovered by the SEC in December, when it froze the assets of Evgeny Gashichev, who was charged with pulling in over $350,000 in a seven-week run from late August to mid-October.

Kamardin, a U.S. citizen, transferred his gains to the bank account of his Russian-born roommate, who then moved the monies to a Latvian bank. "Kamardin is believed to have fled from the United States to Russia to conceal his whereabouts," the SEC's complaint read.

Although the SEC has prosecuted account hackers in the past -- charges against Van Dinh in 2003 for using a key-logging Trojan to steal brokerage account user names and passwords resulted in a 2004 conviction and a 13-month jail term -- the agency was not optimistic in December about shutting down the twist on pump 'n' dump.

"It is highly likely that the fraud [will] continue," the SEC said then.

Turns out, the agency was right.

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