Six individuals, including a securities attorney, have been charged in an indictment with defrauding investors in a stock manipulation scheme from 2003 to 2008.
According to the indictment, Jonathan Randall Curshen, 46, of Sarasota, Florida was the principal behind Red Sea Management and Sentry Global Securities, two companies located in San Jose, Costa Rica, that provided offshore accounts and facilitated trading in penny stocks.
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The indictment alleges that Eric Ariav Weinbaum, 37, and Izhack Zigdon, 47, of Israel took control of the outstanding shares of a company called CO2 Tech, which traded in the over-the-counter market through listings on Pink Sheets, an inter-dealer electronic quotation and trading system.
Weinbaum and Zigdon allegedly obtained the shares by retaining Krome who allegedly employed a method to evade federal securities registration requirements in order to provide co-conspirators with millions of unregistered and "free-trading" shares of CO2 Tech that the co-conspirators could not have otherwise legally obtained.
"The indictment unsealed today alleges that the defendants used their access and training to illegally manipulate stock prices for their own advantage," said Lanny A. Breuer. "Pump-and-dump schemes like the one alleged in this case leave legitimate investors holding worthless stocks.”
The indictment alleges that the shares were subsequently sold to the general investing public through Sentry Global's stock trading floor in Costa Rica. According to the indictment, the co-conspirators were able to hide from the investing public the actual financial condition and business operations of the company by evading the registration requirements.
The indictment also alleges that Robert Lloyd Weidenbaum, 44, of Miami was paid approximately $1 million by Weinbaum and Zigdon to participate in sham stock trades of CO2 Tech to make it appear that there were genuine investors in the market that were buying the shares.
As alleged in the indictment, coordinated trades were often made between the co-conspirators in conjunction with the issuance of false and misleading press releases that were designed to make CO2 Tech appear that it had significant business prospects. According to these press releases, CO2 Tech purported to have a business relationship with Boeing to reduce polluting gases emitted from airplanes. The indictment alleges that these relationships never existed.
After fraudulently "pumping" the market price and demand for CO2 Tech stock through these press releases and coordinated trades, the defendants "dumped" shares by selling them for large profits to the general investing public in the over-the-counter market through listings on Pink Sheets. These shares were allegedly purchased by unsuspecting investors, including in the Southern District of Florida, and were often rendered virtually worthless.