Tag Archives: Scams

A Review: The Bre-X Scandal

The Peak
It was touted by media and banks as the “richest gold deposit ever”
In December 1996, Lehman Brothers Inc. strongly recommended a buy on “the gold discovery of the century.”

Bre-X’s salted samples were never checked by a third party, people wanted to believe so they never questioned the rising price of the stock. Do not ignore the warning signs.

Patience is paying off in http://csinvesting.org/2017/05/12/a-tontine/

Seeking an Investment Manager! Lesson on Cost of Capital (VRX)


I am bombarded with these types of emails everyday, but I notice the increasing sophistication in these “fishing” missives. I post it as is.

Hi Dear.
Good day to you and your family, i want to use this moment to communicate you privately, I apologize if the contents of this letter are contrary to your moral ethics, I am really happy sending you this letter to know some one like you in my life. Let start from here to know ourselves and see what the future will hold to each other. I am Eleev Belaid a Tunisian by nationality, 26 year old single female and never married before, a first year university student and studying medicine.

My Father, Mr M. C. Belaid worked with the Arabian Gulf Oil and Gas Company as top senior officer in Tripoli Libya and also was purchasing a large quantities of metric tons of raw organic Cotton. He was into exportation of cottons from Burkina Faso Agro-business product company before his sudden death as he was killed by the rebels (al-Qaeda terrorists) on 20th October 2011 during the civil war in Libya. They attacked our house one early morning killing my Mother and my Father. I was not a victim of death because i was not living with my parent but was at the school Dormitory when the incident took place, after i have confirmed the death of my parent, i traveled back to Tunisia (my country) where my Father had his Siblings and investments/properties, my wicked uncle who had been controlling my late Father’s investments/properties whom i met in person said that i have no right according to tradition and custom of the land to inherit my late Father’s investments because i am a female and my Mother didn’t have a male child for my Father since i am the only child for my parent. My attempt to go into argument with him he threaten to killed me which made me to ran away for my dear life.

Firstly, I don’t have another option than to let you know about this so that you can help me out, but before the war got out of hand in Libya, my late Father moved all his funds into one of the European Banks. The amount that was moved to European bank was a total of $5,800,000 Million USD. I had applied to bank for the release of the funds to me, so that I could start a new business, but the bank Directors told me that my late Father left a “Note”(WILL) in the form of conditions, that the bank Must Not release the funds to me until I have an experienced of investing the funds into a very good business venture, and the “Will” also stated that I should present an experienced business partner/manager before the bank, who would assist me in investing wisely.

This then brought me to the issue of searching for a reputable and trustworthy person who would be my investment manager over the transaction with the European Bank and who has vast experiences in profitable businesses, where to invest the funds into. I want you to tell me more about good investments in your country, so that I will move this fund into your account in your country so that I can relocate my investment plan to your country. Tell me more about your country. How good it will be to invest in your country. I will appreciate whatever result you may brief me. Do let me know your idea and knowledge regarding these or any other profitable investment you may suggest. After the whole deal and the fund is released, You will be rewarded with 30% of the total amount for your participation and also any future investment profit you are entitle of 10% as your benefit.

Please, am seeking your humble assistance to uptake and accept the below responsibilities:
1. To stand as my Foreign Partner over the transaction.
2. You are to provide any account for the transaction (either empty account or existing account.)
3. After the transaction process, you recommend a nice university where to complete my studies.

Honestly, my days are not good since i came over here in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in this prison called refugee camp. We are only allowed to go out on Mondays and Fridays of the weeks. It s just like one staying in the prison and i hope by God’s grace and with your future assistance i will come out here soon.

Reply soonest to proceed.
Yours Truly
Miss Eleev Belaid

What bonds are saying about Valeant http://seekingalpha.com/article/3994126-bond-market-saying-valeant


Valeant’s bonds are trading at non-distressed levels, and have done so throughout the past year while the stock has sold off ~90%.

The bonds are currently trading at the same level that they were before the March earnings report, while the stock has sold off by almost 70% since then.

The bond market does not believe the negative message that the stock market has been sending about Valeant.

The B3/B- rating of Valeant’s bonds implies a 27% chance of bankruptcy over 10 years. I show that the share price ~$23 is pricing in a 67% chance of bankruptcy.

This is done using a comparison with peers based on EV/revenue, which shows that Valeant’s shares should be trading at ~$70 in normal circumstances.

One way to determine the cost of capital would be the rate of interest needed for a banker to loan all the firm’s capital. See Chapter 8: Cost-of-Equity-Capital Credit Model in Security Valuation and Risk Analysis by Hackel

More on TA. Does It Work?


Readers’ Replies to prior post on Technical Analysis (“TA”) found here: http://wp.me/p2OaYY-2ib

#1 Here is one rich technician. Paul Tudor Jones. Nuff said. Lowery research has been in business a long time doing TA. Tom Demark. Look him up.

#2 Personally I think people should use Fundamentals for investing in anything for the Long Term. Technical Analysis has a purpose but usually only for the immediate future. That’s why most Day Traders use Technical Analysis.

For instance, if you watch the Moving Averages and say that the 200-day Moving Average (200MA) falls below a 50-day moving average (50MA), this is known as a death cross and 9 times out of 10 that I have seen that kind of action, the price on that chart will start to go down.

Technical Analysis is mostly used for short-term movement in a stock, commodity, currency, etc., etc. It is virtually impossible to base a long-term investment on Technical Analysis.

My response: Thanks, but those opinions don’t improve our knowledge about whether TA is a usable tool.  Take #1, Paul Tudor Jones is a big, successful hedgie who uses TA–enough said.  Let’s substitute TA for dresses in drag and flips coins. The meaning would be the same.  I don’t want to pick on anyone, I read the same in many articles on Tudor Jones. I bet you Tudor Jones couldn’t even tell you EXACTLY how he uses charts.  He probably blends many factors into his “sixth-sense” based on thousands of hours of intensive interaction with the markets.See page one: 04_Jul_-_Tudor_Inv_Corp where Tudor loves the dollar and then the next day he is short the dollar. Did a chart give him a signal? If so, what is the STATISTICAL EVIDENCE?

The point is, there is and can never be any statistical evidence since charts just reflect PAST human choices of buying and selling. Future human action can’t be mathematically proscribed.

Paul Tudor Jones II Interview

Also, technical analysis has both passionate critics and ardent adherents. For example, an October 2009 study by New Zealand’s Massey University found that of more than 5,000 strategies that employ technical analysis, none produced returns in the 49 countries where researchers tested the strategies beyond what you’d expect by chance. However, scores of traders, including billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, say the discipline helped them amass great fortunes. So I tried to keep an open mind. (If Paul Tudor Jones is a billionaire, then TA must work! Flawed logic!) Read more at http://www.kiplinger.com/article/investing/T052-C000-S002-our-man-goes-undercover-and-tells-all.html#YYaXPGbZyfPmbyFp.99

#2 If you have evidence that 9 out of 10 times the “Death Cross” moves prices enough for you to take advantage of them–then great for you. But again, if this “signal” did work, why wouldn’t the market DISCOUNT it in the future especially if you could precisely define what a Death Cross is?

There are some money managers who use TA in creative ways for the long-term but I call them market mystics. 

Capital Mkt Update 2008 Montgomery and Capital Mkt Update 2009 Montgomery



What I AM saying is to use TA if it works for you however you define “works for you” be it in confidence, money management and setting risk parameters, finding opportunities, etc. but don’t fool yourself. THERE IS NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE THAT TA HAS ANY EFFICACY.

I will make a $1,000 bet. Show me any statistical proof or long-term (fifiteen years or more) of market beating returns solely using TA. Ask these guys: http://www.tradingacademy.com/about-us/.  I guess SELLING TA is more profitable than USING it. I smell a legal high-pressure selling scam: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/online-trading-academy-boston/norwood-massachusetts-/online-trading-academy-boston-ota-watch-out-for-this-high-pressure-tactical-manipulatio-888094

Why the strange picture at the top of this post?   This NY Times’ article by Gary Taubes shows how difficult it is to obtain scientific proof for even life threatening health issues. 


NEARLY six weeks into the 2014 diet season, it’s a good bet that many of us who made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight have already peaked. If clinical trials are any indication, we’ve lost much of the weight we can expect to lose. In a year or two we’ll be back within half a dozen pounds of where we are today.
The question is why. Is this a failure of willpower or of technique? Was our chosen dietary intervention — whether from the latest best-selling diet book or merely a concerted attempt to eat less and exercise more — doomed to failure? Considering that obesity and its related diseases — most notably,Type 2 diabetes — now cost the health care system more than $1 billion per day, it’s not hyperbolic to suggest that the health of the nation may depend on which is the correct answer.
Since the 1960s, nutrition science has been dominated by two conflicting observations. One is that we know how to eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight. The other is that the rapidly increasing rates of obesity and diabetes suggest that something about the conventional thinking is simply wrong.
In 1960, fewer than 13 percent of Americans were obese, and diabetes had been diagnosed in 1 percent. Today, the percentage of obese Americans has almost tripled; the percentage of Americans with diabetes has increased seven-fold.
Meanwhile, the research literature on obesity has also ballooned. In 1960, fewer than 1,100 articles were published on obesity or diabetes in the indexed medical literature. Last year it was more than 44,000. In total, over 600,000 articles have been published purporting to convey some meaningful information on these conditions.
It would be nice to think that this deluge of research has brought clarity to the issue. The trend data argue otherwise. If we understand these disorders so well, why have we failed so miserably to prevent them? The conventional explanation is that this is the manifestation of an unfortunate reality: Type 2 diabetes is caused or exacerbated by obesity, and obesity is a complex, intractable disorder. The more we learn, the more we need to know.
Here’s another possibility: The 600,000 articles — along with several tens of thousands of diet books — are the noise generated by a dysfunctional research establishment. Because the nutrition research community has failed to establish reliable, unambiguous knowledge about the environmental triggers of obesity and diabetes, it has opened the door to a diversity of opinions on the subject, of hypotheses about cause, cure and prevention, many of which cannot be refuted by the existing evidence. Everyone has a theory. The evidence doesn’t exist to say unequivocally who’s wrong.
The situation is understandable; it’s a learning experience in the limits of science. The protocol of science is the process of hypothesis and test. This three-word phrase, though, does not do it justice. The philosopher Karl Popper did when he described “the method of science as the method of bold conjectures and ingenious and severe attempts to refute them.”
In nutrition, the hypotheses are speculations about what foods or dietary patterns help or hinder our pursuit of a long and healthy life. The ingenious and severe attempts to refute the hypotheses are the experimental tests — the clinical trials and, to be specific, randomized controlled trials. Because the hypotheses are ultimately about what happens to us over decades, meaningful trials are prohibitively expensive and exceedingly difficult. It means convincing thousands of people to change what they eat for years to decades. Eventually enough heart attacks, cancers and deaths have to happen among the subjects so it can be established whether the dietary intervention was beneficial or detrimental.
And before any of this can even be attempted, someone’s got to pay for it. Since no pharmaceutical company stands to benefit, prospective sources are limited, particularly when we insist the answers are already known. Without such trials, though, we’re only guessing whether we know the truth.
Back in the 1960s, when researchers first took seriously the idea thatdietary fat caused heart disease, they acknowledged that such trials were necessary and studied the feasibility for years. Eventually the leadership at the National Institutes of Health concluded that the trials would be too expensive — perhaps a billion dollars — and might get the wrong answer anyway. They might botch the study and never know it. They certainly couldn’t afford to do two such studies, even though replication is a core principle of the scientific method. Since then, advice to restrict fat or avoid saturated fat has been based on suppositions about what would have happened had such trials been done, not on the studies themselves.
Nutritionists have adjusted to this reality by accepting a lower standard of evidence on what they’ll believe to be true. They do experiments with laboratory animals, for instance, following them for the better part of the animal’s lifetime — a year or two in rodents, say — and assume or at least hope that the results apply to humans. And maybe they do, but we can’t know for sure without doing the human experiments.
They do experiments on humans — the species of interest — for days or weeks or even a year or two and then assume that the results apply to decades. And maybe they do, but we can’t know for sure. That’s a hypothesis, and it must be tested.
And they do what are called observational studies, observing populations for decades, documenting what people eat and what illnesses beset them, and then assume that the associations they observe between diet and disease are indeed causal — that if people who eat copious vegetables, for instance, live longer than those who don’t, it’s the vegetables that cause the effect of a longer life. And maybe they do, but there’s no way to know without experimental trials to test that hypothesis.
The associations that emerge from these studies used to be known as “hypothesis-generating data,” based on the fact that an association tells us only that two things changed together in time, not that one caused the other. So associations generate hypotheses of causality that then have to be tested. But this hypothesis-generating caveat has been dropped over the years as researchers studying nutrition have decided that this is the best they can do.
One lesson of science, though, is that if the best you can do isn’t good enough to establish reliable knowledge, first acknowledge it — relentless honesty about what can and cannot be extrapolated from data is another core principle of science — and then do more, or do something else. As it is, we have a field of sort-of-science in which hypotheses are treated as facts because they’re too hard or expensive to test, and there are so many hypotheses that what journalists like to call “leading authorities” disagree with one another daily.

It’s an unacceptable situation. Obesity and diabetes are epidemic, and yet the only relevant fact on which relatively unambiguous data exist to support a consensus is that most of us are surely eating too much of something. (My vote is sugars and refined grains; we all have our biases.) Making meaningful inroads against obesity and diabetes on a population level requires that we know how to treat and prevent it on an individual level. We’re going to have to stop believing we know the answer, and challenge ourselves to come up with trials that do a better job of testing our beliefs.

Before I, for one, make another dietary resolution, I’d like to know that what I believe I know about a healthy diet is really so. Is that too much to ask?
Gary Taubes is a health and science journalist and co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative.

Another Email from Nigeria (Creative Scams)

The first scam that I have come across that tugs at the heartstrings. My spam box receives about 25 a day.  I wonder what the scammer’s conversion rate is…………




Apology for invading your privacy. I came across your email address in my email book today as my spirit leads. I have been praying and fasting for direction to meet someone i can trust with my life endeavors for humanitarian purpose. I’m Kate Johnson, 70-yrs old from England affected with cancer of the breast.  My condition has deteriorated to the 5th stage. My surgical specialist informed me recently that i would not be able to survive my next surgery is a matter of 50/50 Operation. That might just be trust as my medical Report explained more in details. Right now, am left with no hope as a childless widow.

Considering my condition now, I have been touched by the lord to donate from what I have inherited from my late husband to less privilege through someone i can trust with my heart as my spirit lead me  for good work to humanity rather than allow my heartless relatives to use my husband’s hard earned funds inappropriately. Right now, am on sick bed at cancer center in Liverpool, England for treatment. Am writing you this letter purposely because i need to know if you can be trusted to handle a humanitarian project for me. I am willing to donate a huge Amount to the poor through a Godly minded and honest person since is very impossible for me to even get up from sick bed. Can you help me?

Please send full contact details so you can receive my donation.

Kindly get back to me as soon as possible for further details on what to next, waiting for your urgent responds.

Best Regards,

Kate Johnson.


Wow, my hankie is soaked with tears. A childless widow dying of cancer needs my help to donate for humanitarian causes. Sob.  


JCP Potential Case Study; SCAMS and More

JC Penny’s (JCP) Announces Terrible Earnings but The stock rallies

Is the market a discounting mechanism? Jim Cramer of CNBC would say, “JCP is a CROWDED short.” The beginnings of a case study here: JCP_Barrons


My inbox is being flooded (as a subscriber–to find shorts–to Penny Stock Newsletters my email is raw meat for scammers) with more sophisticated scams: IMF_–_International_Monetary_Fund_SCAM

My email automatically responds to the scammer to call about 50 different (phony) phone numbers in the US to reach me so I can wire funds to help them.


Beyond Buffett_Aug 12 (The old Harry Browne Method of Asset Diversification)

Note: Charlie Munger once said that no one ever got rich being an asset allocator.

Updated: Aug. 13, 2012: from www.economicpolicyjournal.com

The economist and financial author Harry Browne once designed what he
called a “Permanent Portfolio”. The idea behind PP was to create a
portfolio in away that investments were made so that the portfolio
would maintain its value and grow conservatively over time, with
certain parts of the portfolio outperforming other parts of the
portfolio at different times, depending upon the economic
environment—without having to time the economy.

Browne’s idea was to equally divide up a certain amount of money
between various sectors. Because he felt the economy was cyclical, he
felt that when a sector was cheap (and might be poised for a climb)
you would end up buying more unit wise in that sector, if you
allocated your money equally among the sectors,  and less, unit wise,
when prices were higher, BUT that this still resulted in your
participating in all sectors, without having to attempt to time the
exact ups and downs of the business cycle.

There’s a lot to be said  for Browne’s PP.

His four sectors were:

The US stock market via warrants
The 30-year T-bond.
Gold coins.
Cash, i.e.,Treasury bills

This is a good base to work with. However, given that the yield on the
30-year Treasury bonds is so low (2.65%), in my view it makes no sense
to put money in them. Thus, I would put money into only three sectors:
gold coins, Treasury bills and the US stock market.

As far as gold coins are concerned, I would divide up purchases
between both gold coins and  silver coins. And also, if your back is
strong enough, nickels.

Put 33% in nickels of your “gold sector” purchases. They can be
acquired at any bank. Put 33% in gold coins and  33% in silver coins.

Buy only what is known as “junk silver”  (These silver coins come in
bags of $1,000 face value). as for gold buy only “bullion coins” such
as the American Eagle and Canadian Mapleleaf.

If you do not live near a major gold coin dear that has been in
business for at least a decade, consider buying from Kitco.I have
successfully purchased coins via mail with Kitco for many years. If
you chose to use a different dealer, you can use the Kitco prices
online as a guide. One note when buying online, split up your order,
so you don’t risk having an order lost. It’s very unlikely an order
will get lost but take the precaution and split you order up.,Kitco
sends by registered mail and they video tape every step of your coin
order as it is put in a box.

As for Treasury bills, depending upon the size of your purchase, you
can buy them directly from the Fed or through a bank or broker.When
possible, I recommend dealing directly with the Fed.

For those dealing in smaller numbers, I recommend  simply using a bank
account at a “Too Big To Fail” bank.

Browne recommended using warrants for the stock market portion of the
portfolio, there is nothing wrong with this. However, carefully chosen
stocks picks will provide just as much upside potential as warrants,
with less of the downside risk.

Thus to re-cap:

A PP, under current market conditions should look like this:

33% in Treasury bills (or funds at a Too Big To Fail bank)

33% In gold coins (actually split up between 1/3 gold coins, 1/3,
silver coins and 1/3 nickels)

33% in the stock market (with stocks that will benefit from inflation
and also from individual growth trends)

How much should be put into your PP?

It depends upon your age and your wealth. The older you are and the
more wealth you have, the more that should be put into PP. perhaps

If you are very young and are willing to take on more risk, then
perhaps only 50% of your funds should be in a PP. The rest can be for
more aggressive trading.

The EPJ Daily Alert is about identifying opportunities for the stock
part of the PP and also identifying opportunities for more aggressive

Below are stocks and other investments that I have previously
identified in the EPJ Daily Alert and are still “active’ investments.
They are designated as PP (permanent portfolio) or AP (aggressive
portfolio) investments.

First, here is my view on nickels a gold coin sector PP investment:


At some point,nickles, which are mostly made of copper, will start to
disappear from
circulation, as the copper price climbs

There is right now approximately 5.0 cents worth of metal in a nickel.
It was much higher before the financial crisis: Close to 7 cents worth
of metal. When I run into someone that does not have a strong
background in investing, I now tell them to buy nickels. You need storage space and a strong back to move them around, but a $100 box of nickels (roughly the size of a very large brick) can be lifted without problem. You can stack
plenty of “bricks” on a hand truck.

What’s great about this investment is that there is no downside. In
the unlikely event that there is no inflation, you can just spend your
nickles.  But you will have to “order” your nickles from your bank. I
tend to try and keep any one order (per bank) to around $2,000 for
both handling (lifting) purposes and so that Ben Bernanke  doesn’t
personally visit to see what is going on.

You can also buy brand shiny new nickels from numismatic dealers for a
small charge, and obviously they don’t ask any questions. But, again, nickels are a great conservative investment  [If you have the space and the back] with zero downside.

One hedge fund manager has reportedly ordered from his bank a million
dollars worth of nickels. I fully expect the coins will eventually
climb in value to at least double their 5 cent  face value price. The
government has made it illegal to melt them down, but you will never have to do anything close to that. When you need to liquidate, just sell them to a
numismatic dealer. Via the magic of black markets, the value (with a
good spread) will track the metal value. You can monitor the value of
the metal in the nickels at the website Coinflation.com.

As part of the PP stock portfolio, I include:


Comerica (CMA-WT) warrants have much less exposure to foreclosuregate
than other major banks (They are heavy into commercial loans which
will benefit from Fed printing, and the warrants offer an opportunity
to play CMA on a leveraged basis, while limiting risk.  These warrants
were issued by Comerica to the Treasury as part of the TARP program.
Warrants give you great upside leverage with limited downside risk. A
hedge fund manager I know, who has studied these warrants, tells me
they are mis-priced. He tells me traders use the Black_Scholes  option
model to determine value of the warrants, but the manger argues, the
option model undervalues warrants.

For example Comerica warrants expire in late 2018 and the change in
intrinsic value of the warrants will depend on the value of Comerica
in 2017. Which means long-term trends are much more important in these
warrants, and this is not properly taken into consideration in the
short-term thinking of the Black-Scholes model.

Case Study, Test, and Prize on SPNK–A Fantasy, Scam, or Fraud? Cheer Up and Look on the Bright Side of Life!

If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.–Steven Wright

SPNK: Can you Find the ticking bomb?

Anyone who specifically points out in the documents (see link below) where there is guaranteed devastation for the common shareholders will receive an A+ and an email prize.

If someone has posted a reply in the comments section, try not to read it, and think through the case on your own. Why are we in the world of Penny stocks, pump and dump stock schemes and Mafia-controlled companies–far, far away from our cherished franchises like IBM. Colgate, and Stryker?  Sometimes if you invert, you can learn more about financial statements and human nature.

Skim through the 115 pages and focus on the critical areas. Tomorrow evening I will post my analysis of this document.  The goal is to get you to pick out the danger areas. Obviously, this company has little financial value based on its assets and operations, but what is particularly lethal to any shareholder?

Good luck!

SNPK’s Financials:http://www.scribd.com/doc/85185922/SNPK-Financials

Guess how stocks like SNPK are sold:



I just received an email alert:

Dear valued subscribers,

SNPK closed at 70 cents today. Getting one step closer to multi dollar territories. We are absolutely confident of the massive potential this pick holds.

If it can just reproduce a fraction of the gains our last pick experienced it would still hit multi dollar levels.

Tomorrow may be one of the last opportunities our members will have to buy SNPK under a dollar.

The company announced this morning that its product, Clotamin, will be sold in about 70 different Discount Drug Mart locations around Ohio. This is on top of the product being available in 9 different states already, and being just picked up by Dakota Drug Inc. for distribution.

Those of you who did buy SNPK a few days ago and are holding are already up a lot.

Those of you who didn’t buy it yet are definitely considering to place an order first thing in the morning.

Do you remember how much our last pick soared? If you had just put $1,000 at our initial alert and and liquidated into near multi dollar levels you could’ve pulled more than $20,000 within 2 months. Not a bad ROI when the S&P returns around 8% a year on avg.

If you invest in anything with 8% return such as the S&P that same $1,000 will take you 40 years to turn into $20,000. As we just mentioned our last pick could have potentially created 40 years’ value in just weeks. Then you could possibly do it all over again with our next pick after it (which in this case is SNPK).

It is already up almost double since our initial alert 4 short days ago. That same gain would take 9 years to produce with the S&P.

The company is in negotiations with a major NBA star to support their products. Let’s stay tuned as this is important information!

SNPK has been steadily climbing every day! Our members couldn’t be happier!


Stock pump-and-dump spam makes comeback

                By , ZDNet Asia on September 6, 2011News of the global debt crisis is driving pump-and-dump stock scams in volatile markets, enabling spammers to make profits by artificially “pumping” up stock prices so as to sell cheaply purchased stocks, note a new report by Symantec.Released Monday, the Symantec August 2011 Intelligence Reportrevealed that spammers are seeking to reap from fluctuations in the turbulent financial markets, by sending large amounts of spam related to certain “pink sheets” stocks, in an attempt to “pump” the value of these stocks before “dumping” them at a profit.”Pink sheets” are typically over-the-counter stocks of companies that are not required to submit financial statements to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.”With the world still reeling from the recession, the stock markets are now in turmoil from the increasingly global credit crisis and the specter of a ‘double dip recession’, whereby the [world] economy is expected to again tank after a brief rally,” said Samir Patil, a security researcher at Symantec, in a blog post.According to Paul Wood, senior intelligence analyst at Symantec’s cloud business, scammers can make “substantial profits in a matter of days” with well-executed pump-and-dump spam campaigns. “In the current turbulent environment, many people may be convinced to invest in stocks that scammers claim will benefit from the market turbulence,” he pointed out in a statement.

In a typical pump-and-dump stock scam, spammers promote certain stocks to inflate the price as much as possible so they may then be sold before their valuation crashes back to reality, said Symantec. The spam for these scams tries to convince the prospective investor that the cheap or penny stock is actually worth more than its valuation, or that it will soon skyrocket.

However, most of these claims are misleading or false, the vendor warned in its report.

In a successful campaign, the influx of spam will artificially drive the stock’s price to a point where scammers decide to sell their shares. This usually coincides with them ending the spam campaign, which could reduce interest in the stock, helping to drive the valuation back to its original low price, which could also be exploited in the market.

Most of the pump-and-dump spam originate from the United States and China, while a percentage is being generated from other countries in Asia. The majority of the attacks target North American users, Symantec revealed.

The report also noted a deluge of penny stock spam promoting Resource Exchange of America Corp (RXAC.PK) stocks whereby messages were full of irrelevant line breaks and spaces between words.

The e-mail headers contained broken words such as “Stocks” and “money” with poorly translated non sequiturs throughout the message such as “United States still an AAA country, Obama says?!”.

Other examples of e-mail subjects include “Stocks Ready to Bounce?”, “There is a MASSIVE PROMOTION underway NOW!” and “Been right on the money”.

In order to avoid falling prey to e-mail scams such as pump-and-dump scams, users should create a spam filter, never respond to spam and get multiple e-mail addresses for multiple purposes, Stephanie Boo, regional director for Symantec’s cloud business, advised.

“The Internet world is a borderless one. Today’s volume and sophistication of threat activities have increased substantially and cybercriminals continue to be motivated by financial gains,” she said in an e-mail. “Pump-and-dump scams are just one of the many tactics that cybercriminals leverage to attack consumers and enterprises alike.”

Cheer up and look at the bright side of life