BOSTON -- IT security and control firm Sophos welcomes news that two men have been charged by the Texas Attorney General's Office with organized criminal activity and money laundering. The case follows an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into the illegal use of pump-and-dump spam emails to artificially inflate the share prices of at least 13 penny stocks between May 2005 and December 2006.
According to reports, the SEC's complaint charged Darrel Uselton, 40, and his uncle, Jack Usleton, 69, both from Texas, with orchestrating a series of spam email campaigns designed to con unwary investors and to manipulate the stock market. The men are alleged to have used a zombie network of hijacked computers across the country to distribute these emails and ultimately to defraud unsuspecting computer users out of an estimated $4.6 million. The investigation began after an SEC lawyer is said to have received one of the fraudulent emails at work.
"I applaud the SEC for charging these two men, but I think illegal pump-and-dump spam campaigns are going to continue as spammers see it as a means to make some quick cash," said Ron OBrien, senior security analyst at Boston-based Sophos. "Internet users need to always use good judgment when online - the bottom line is to never trust an anonymous internet tip and practice safe computing."