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SEC Investigates Manipulation of Shopping.com Stock

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges against 41 defendants alleging they were involved with fraudulent schemes that cheated investors out of more than $25 million.

Among those charged with fraud include Waldron & Co., a California-based brokerage firm that underwrote Internet shopping site Shopping.com. The lawsuit states that the brokerage firm and its former president, Cery B. Perle, "pumped up" the price of Shopping.com stock 255% from its IPO price of $9 to more than $32 per share.

The SEC is seeking the return of over $4 million in what it describes as "ill-gotten gains" from the firm.

A Shopping.com representative flatly denied any involvement in the fraudulent activity. No charges were filed against any of the Shopping.com staff.

"We are dedicated to ferreting out and prosecuting those who prey on innocent investors," said Richard H. Walker, director of enforcement for the SEC.

Twelve other enforcement actions were also filed, charging defendants with issuing phony stock certificates, promoting bogus hotel and condo projects, and lying about products in order to "pump up" stock prices.