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国际资讯监管与政策

SEC就上市公司ICO投资向投资者发出警告

昨日美国证券交易委员会(后文简称SEC)发出警告称,一些上市公司声称参与了首次公开募币(ICO)或与之相关的活动,并以此为噱头来说服并诱使潜在投资者投资该公司的股票,而这当中很可能暗藏骗局。这些欺诈行为包括“拉高出货”(pump-and-dump)和操纵市场行为(一些上市公司声称可以为投资者提供投资新科技机会)。

SEC建议投资者:

1. 在购买股票前,一定要研究该公司的财务、组织和业务前景,特别是停牌后信息。这些信息通常可以在公司向SEC提交的文件中找到。

2. 不需要向SEC提交报告的一些公司可能没有最新的准确信息,投资者需要小心这些公司股票交易的风险。

3. 投资者应该注意,公司博客、社交网站、官网上披露的信息可能是不准确甚至是存在误导性的。

4. 对于与ICO等新技术相关的股票促销应该特别谨慎,尤其是以下两种企业:

a. 声称其ICO符合SEC规定,但无法解释具体合规的公司;

b. 能够进行普通股交易,且有意通过ICO筹集资金,但采用模糊、无意义、未定义的技术或法律术语描述其ICO相关业务的公司。

5. 为预防诈骗,投资者还应注意几种情况:

a.同一发起人促成的证券或其他证券的公开交易被SEC叫停;

b. 在促销活动中同时增加了股价或交易量;

c. 出现在新闻稿或促销活动宣传中但最终却没有发生的事件;

d. 公司没有真实业务(少数资产,或总收入微乎其微);

e. 公司发行大量股份,但公司资产没有相应增加;

f. 公司名称、管理层或业务类型出现频繁变化。

The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is warning investors about potential scams involving stock of companies claiming to be related to, or asserting they are engaging in, Initial Coin Offerings (or ICOs). Fraudsters often try to use the lure of new and emerging technologies to convince potential victims to invest their money in scams. These frauds include “pump-and-dump” and market manipulation schemes involving publicly traded companies that claim to provide exposure to these new technologies.

Recent Trading Suspensions

Developers, businesses, and individuals increasingly are using ICOs – also called coin or token launches or sales – to raise capital. There has been media attention regarding this form of capital raising. While these activities may provide fair and lawful investment opportunities, there may be situations in which companies are publicly announcing ICO or coin/token related events to affect the price of the company’s common stock.

The SEC may suspend trading in a stock when the SEC is of the opinion that a suspension is required to protect investors and the public interest. Circumstances that might lead to a trading suspension include:

  1. A lack of current, accurate, or adequate information about the company – for example, when a company has not filed any periodic reports for an extended period;
  2. Questions about the accuracy of publicly available information, including in company press releases and reports, about the company’s current operational status and financial condition; or
  3. Questions about trading in the stock, including trading by insiders, potential market manipulation, and the ability to clear and settle transactions in the stock.

The SEC recently issued several trading suspensions on the common stock of certain issuers who made claims regarding their investments in ICOs or touted coin/token related news. The companies affected by trading suspensions include First Bitcoin Capital Corp., CIAO Group, Strategic Global, and Sunshine Capital.

Investors should be very cautious in considering an investment in a stock following a trading suspension. A trading suspension is one warning sign of possible microcap fraud (microcap stocks, some of which are penny stocks and/or nanocap stocks, tend to be low priced and trade in low volumes). If current, reliable information about a company and its stock is not available, investors should consider seriously the risk of making an investment in the company’s stock. For more on trading suspensions, see our Investor Bulletin: Trading in Stock after an SEC Trading Suspension – Be Aware of the Risks.

Pump-and-Dump and Market Manipulations

One way fraudsters seek to profit is by engaging in market manipulation, such as by spreading false and misleading information about a company (typically microcap stocks) to affect the stock’s share price. They may spread stock rumors in different ways, including on company websites, press releases, email spam, and posts on social media, online bulletin boards, and chat rooms. The false or misleading rumors may be positive or negative.

For example, “pump-and-dump” schemes involve the effort to manipulate a stock’s share price or trading volume by touting the company’s stock through false and misleading statements to the marketplace. Pump-and-dump schemes often occur on the Internet where it is common to see messages posted that urge readers to buy a stock quickly or to sell before the price goes down, or a promoter will call using the same sort of pitch. In reality, the author of the messages may be a company insider or paid promoter who stands to gain by selling their shares after the stock price is “pumped” up by the buying frenzy they create. Once these fraudsters “dump” their shares for a profit and stop hyping the stock, the price typically falls, and investors lose their money. Learn more about these schemes in our Updated Investor Alert: Fraudulent Stock Promotions.

Tips for Investors

1. Always research a company before buying its stock, especially following a trading suspension. Consider the company’s finances, organization, and business prospects. This type of information often is included in filings that a company makes with the SEC, which are available for free and can be found in the Commission’s EDGAR filing system.

2. Some companies are not required to file reports with the SEC. These are known as “non-reporting” companies. Investors should be aware of the risks of trading the stock of such companies, as there may not be current and accurate information that would allow investors to make an informed investment decision.

3. Investors should also do their own research and be aware that information from online blogs, social networking sites, and even a company’s own website may be inaccurate and potentially intentionally misleading.

4. Be especially cautious regarding stock promotions, including related to new technologies such as ICOs. Look out for these warning signs of possible ICO-related fraud:

(1) Company that has common stock trading claims that its ICO is “SEC-compliant” without explaining how the offering is in compliance with the securities laws; or

(2) Company that has common stock trading also purports to raise capital through an ICO or take on ICO-related business described in vague or nonsensical terms or using undefined technical or legal jargon.

5. Look out for these warning signs of possible microcap fraud:

(1) SEC suspended public trading of the security or other securities promoted by the same promoter;

(2) Increase in stock price or trading volume happening at the same time as the promotional activity;

(3) Press releases or promotional activity announcing events that ultimately do not happen (e.g., multiple announcements of preliminary deals or agreements; announcements of deals with unnamed partners; announcements using hyperbolic language);

(4) Company has no real business operations (few assets, or minimal gross revenues);

(5) Company issues a lot of shares without a corresponding increase in the company’s assets; and

(6) Frequent changes in company name, management, or type of business.


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