Washington, D.C., June 7, 2011–The Securities and Exchange Commission today suspended trading in 17 microcap stocks because of questions about the adequacy and accuracy of publicly available information about the companies, which trade in the over-the-counter (OTC) market.
The trading suspensions spring from a joint effort by SEC regional offices in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Philadelphia; its Office of Market Intelligence; and its new Microcap Fraud Working Group, which uses a coordinated, proactive approach to detecting and deterring fraud involving microcap securities. The trading suspensions follow a similar suspension last week against Uniontown Energy Inc. (UTOG), based in Henderson, Nev., and Vancouver, Canada.
“They may be called ‘penny stocks,’ but victims of microcap fraud can suffer devastating losses,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “The SEC’s new Microcap Fraud Working Group is targeting the insiders and promoters, as well as the transfer agents, attorneys, auditors, broker-dealers, and other “gatekeepers” who flourish in the shadows of this less-than-transparent market.”
George Canellos, Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office, added, “The investing public does not have accurate or adequate information about these securities to use in making informed investment decisions. Nonetheless, stock-touting websites, twitter users, and often anonymous individuals posting to Internet message boards have hyped many of these companies, and these promotional campaigns have been followed by spikes in share price and trading volume.”
The 17 companies and their ticker symbols are:
American Pacific Rim Commerce Group (APRM), based in Citra, Fla.
Anywhere MD, Inc. (ANWM), based in Altascadero, Calif.
Calypso Wireless Inc. (CLYW), based in Houston.
Cascadia Investments, Inc. (CDIV), based in Tacoma, Wash.
CytoGenix Inc. (CYGX), based in Houston.
Emerging Healthcare Solutions Inc. (EHSO), based in Houston.
Evolution Solar Corp. (EVSO), based in The Woodlands, Texas.
Global Resource Corp. (GBRC), based in Morrisville, N.C.
Go Solar USA Inc. (GSLO), based in New Orleans.
Kore Nutrition Inc. (KORE), based in Henderson, Nev.
Laidlaw Energy Group Inc. (LLEG), based in New York City.
Mind Technologies Inc. (METK), based in Cardiff, Calif.
Montvale Technologies Inc. (IVVI), based in Montvale, N.J.
MSGI Security Solutions Inc. (MSGI), based in New York City.
Prime Star Group Inc. (PSGI), based in Las Vegas, Nev.
Solar Park Initiatives Inc. (SOPV), based in Ponte Verde Beach, Fla.
United States Oil & Gas Corp. (USOG), based in Austin, Texas.
Some examples of the promotions are as follows:
Calypso Wireless Inc. has not filed periodic reports since February 2008, when it filed a report for the period ending Sept. 30, 2007. Despite that, the company’s share price rose from 4 cents on Sept. 21, 2011 to an intra-day high of 17 cents on Sept. 24, 2011. Over the same period, trading volume jumped to nearly six million shares, up from 376,000 shares. On Sept. 24, 2011, a stock-promoting website encouraged investors to continue buying Calypso Wireless shares (PINK: CLYW, CLYW message board), stating, in part, “Over the week, CLYW stock has been running wild … This CLYW stock rush happened just like that, on no company’s news and on old, well known SEC filings, done for the investment community.”
Shares in Kore Nutrition Inc. began to spike on Aug. 31, 2010, following the release of a company-paid research report setting a target price of $10.50. Moreover, on Sept. 1 and 8, 2010, the company issued press releases announcing new distribution agreements to market its energy drinks. The research report and distribution agreement claims were reiterated on numerous stock-promotion websites, touting Kore Nutrition as a “winner.” Kore Nutrition’s quarterly report for the period ending Sept. 30, 2010, filed with the SEC on Nov. 15, 2010, made no mention of the announced distribution agreements.
Montvale Technologies Inc. announced the dissolution of the company on Feb. 12, 2010, and last filed financial statements with the SEC for the third quarter of 2009. The company’s shares have nonetheless continued to trade, and to be promoted. On Dec. 22, 2010, a website recommended a “closer look” at Montvale Technologies, claiming it “has the potential to do very well in the short term.” That day, the share price rose 75 percent from 12 cents to 20 cents, and trading volume soared 500 percent over the prior day.
The Microcap Fraud Working Group is a joint initiative of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement and Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations. The Working Group is pursuing a strategic approach to combating microcap fraud by focusing on recidivists and insiders, and on the attorneys, auditors, broker-dealers, transfer agents and other gatekeepers that facilitate a large volume of the fraud in this sector. The Working Group is comprised of staff from the SEC’s headquarters in Washington D.C., each of its 11 regional offices, and from the Office of Market Intelligence, Division of Corporation Finance, Division of Risk, Strategy, and Financial Innovation, Office of General Counsel, Division of Trading and Markets, and the Division of Investment Management.
For additional information about trading suspensions, including answers to frequently asked questions, read the SEC’s Investor Bulletin on Trading Suspensions available at www.sec.gov/investor.shtml as well as on www.Investor.gov.