SEC Charges 18 Defendants in International Scheme to Manipulate Stocks Using Hacked US Brokerage Accounts

Litigation Release No. 25469 / August 16, 2022

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Rahim Mohamed, Davies ("Dave") Wong, Glenn B. Laken, Richard C.S. Tang, Zoltan Nagy, Jeffrey D. Cox, Phillip G. Sewell, Breanne M. Wong, Christophe Merani, Anna Tang, Robert W. Seeley, Richard B. Smith, Christopher R. Smith, H.E. Capital SA, POP Holdings Ltd., Maximum Ventures Holdings LLC, Harmony Ridge Corp., and Avatele Group LLC, Defendants, and 9224-3708 Quebec, Inc., a/k/a Distributions Bano, and Jason Black, Relief Defendants, No. 1:22-cv-03252 (N.D. Ga. filed Aug. 15, 2022)

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged 18 individuals and entities for their roles in a fraudulent scheme in which dozens of online retail brokerage accounts were hacked and improperly used to purchase microcap stocks to manipulate the price and trading volume of those stocks. Those charged include Rahim Mohamed of Alberta, Canada, who is alleged to have coordinated the hacking attacks, and several others in and outside the U.S. who allegedly benefited from or participated in the scheme.

According to the SEC's complaint, in late 2017 and early 2018, hackers accessed at least 31 U.S. retail brokerage accounts and used them to purchase the securities of Lotus Bio-Technology Development Corp. and Good Gaming, Inc. The unauthorized purchases allegedly enabled fraudsters, who already controlled large blocks of Lotus Bio-Tech and Good Gaming stock, to sell their holdings at artificially high prices and reap more than $1 million in illicit proceeds. According to the complaint, Davies Wong of British Columbia, Canada, and Glenn B. Laken of Illinois, respectively, controlled the majority of the Lotus Bio-Tech and Good Gaming stock that was sold while the hacking attacks were being carried out, and Mohamed coordinated with Davies Wong, Laken, and others to orchestrate the attacks. The complaint also alleges that Richard Tang of British Columbia, Canada, was involved with both the Lotus Bio-Tech and Good Gaming schemes.

The SEC's complaint charges violations of the antifraud and beneficial ownership reporting provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 ("Securities Act") and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 ("Exchange Act"), and names two relief defendants who received proceeds from the hacks. More specifically, the complaint charges the following defendants with the following violations:

  • Rahim Mohamed of Alberta, Canada, with directly violating, and aiding and abetting violations of, Section 17(a) of the Securities Act, and Sections 9(a) and 10(b) of the Exchange Act, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder;
     
  • Davies Wong of British Columbia, Canada, Richard Tang of British Columbia, Canada, Zoltan Nagy of British Columbia, Canada, Anna Tang of British Columbia, Canada, and Breanne Wong of British Columbia, Canada and Panama, with directly violating, and aiding and abetting violations of, Section 17(a) of the Securities Act, and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and directly violating Sections 13(d) and 16(a) of the Exchange Act, and Rules 13d-1 and 16a-3 thereunder;
     
  • Glenn B. Laken of Illinois, Jeffrey Cox of Alberta, Canada, Christophe Merani of Illinois, and Phillip Sewell of British Columbia, Canada, with directly violating, and aiding and abetting violations of, Section 17(a) of the Securities Act, and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder;
     
  • Robert Seeley of the Dominican Republic, Christopher R. Smith of the Dominican Republic, Richard B. Smith of the Dominican Republic, Wyoming entity Harmony Ridge Corp., and Nevis entities H.E. Capital SA and POP Holdings Ltd., with aiding and abetting violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act, and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder;
     
  • Wyoming entity Maximum Ventures Holdings LLC, with aiding and abetting violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act, and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and directly violating Sections 13(d) and 16(a) of the Exchange Act, and Rules 13d-1 and 16a-3 thereunder; and
     
  • Wyoming entity Avatele Group LLC, with directly violating Sections 13(d) and 16(a) of the Exchange Act, and Rules 13d-1 and 16a-3 thereunder.

The SEC's complaint also names Quebec, Canada entity 9224-3708 Quebec Inc., a/k/a Distributions Bano, and Jason Black of California and/or Georgia, as relief defendants. The SEC seeks the return of ill-gotten gains plus interest, penalties, bars, and other equitable relief. The SEC's investigation is continuing.

The SEC's investigation has been conducted by Joshua Dickman and Lucy Graetz of the Atlanta Regional Office, Andrew McFall of the Washington, D.C. Office, and Patrick McCluskey of the Philadelphia Regional Office, with the assistance of Marlee Miller and Owen Granke of the SEC's Office of International Affairs. The case is being supervised by Acting Chief of the Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit Carolyn Welshhans, Market Abuse Unit Chief Joseph Sansone, Justin Jeffries and Natalie Brunson of the Atlanta Regional Office, and Amy Flaherty Hartman of the Chicago Regional Office. Robert Gordon and William Hicks of the Atlanta Regional Office will lead the SEC's litigation, supervised by M. Graham Loomis.

The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the Alberta Securities Commission, the Australia Securities and Investments Commission, the British Columbia Securities Commission, the Calgary Police Service, the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, the Dubai Financial Services Authority, the French Autorité des Marchés Financiers, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, the Mauritius Financial Services Commission, the Ontario Securities Commission, the Quebec Autorité des Marchés Financiers, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Securities Commission of the Bahamas, the Sûreté du Québec, the Superintendencia del Mercado de Valores de la República Dominicana, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, and the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority.

To learn more about how to protect your online investment accounts from fraud, please visit the SEC's Office of Investor Education and Advocacy investor alerts webpage.