Dear SEC Staff:
I write today to comment on an issue I have been told you are considering. I want to express my support for emphatic enforcement activity against the wave of pump and dump artists who are filling my email box with promotional claims about penny stocks trading on the pink sheets.
I have not read and do not endorse a particular solution, though I found the essay forwarded below -- which I read at -- very persuasive. The problem, as I see it, is that the scammers who are issuing these fraudulent promotions are very intelligent. The emails are well crafted to evade even the best of consumer-level spam defenses. The spammers are dangerous to the integrity of markets. Most investors do not know the benefits and limitations of the Pink Sheets and are in grave, imminent danger of being scammed by a fraud aimed at this weak, but useful, market segment. I believe that the laws against unlicensed promotions and promoters are already adequate to incarcerate these felons for issuing unlicensed and unsupported promotions of securities to more than 20 people. Therefore, I am not sure that I endorse the essay's call for new regulations, and I definitely do not agree that the promoters are "miscreants" as asserted in the essay. They are felons, and they need to be arrested. If new regulations are required to facilitate their arrest and the seizure of their computers, then I support such an effort. What is needed, in my view, is immediate and intensive enforcement to publicize the risk to the public of Pump and Dump Spam and to send a clear message to the pumpers that they will serve lengthy jail terms (or pay significant fines and serve lengthy probationary terms with their computer use barred or monitored) for using their computer skills to create this new type of boiler room.
The point I wish to emphasize is that the SEC needs to see these spam attacks as a market integrity issue rather than an annoying FTC unsolicited commercial email issue. Boiler rooms were dangerous to market integrity in the Sixties through Eighties, but they could only reach 5-10 victims per hour per con man. This scam reaches millions in seconds, and it leaks through respectable spam defenses. It must be stopped, and I believe you could stop it now with a few well publicized arrests.
Thank you for your service to our country.
-- Richard S. Sternberg, Esquire