Bursa warns of stock market manipulation with pump and dump schemes


PETALING JAYA: Just when the market has picked up steam with trading in stocks hitting high volumes, Bursa Malaysia has detected “pump and dump” activities circulating through the social media.

In a circular to the heads of dealing and compliance of stockbroking companies, the stock exchange said it discovered certain groups of market participants using the social media and Internet trading to carry out manipulative activities, which included pump and dump schemes.

The circular was exhaustive on how the manipulation was being carried out.

It said the operators of the pump and dump schemes, that are transacted through the social media, would typically begin by spreading false or misleading statements, news or rumours in investor blogs, chat groups such as Telegram, WhatsApp, WeChat, electronic bulletin board postings or online newsletters to entice or recommend unsuspecting investors to buy stocks which are touted as “hot” picks.

This, it said, was to facilitate the disposal of the stocks that they had accumulated earlier at higher prices.

“We believe that in this Internet age, it is extremely easy to reach out to people through the social media and the availability of the new cyber-tools to reach investors has given rise to unscrupulous operators of pump and dump,” said Bursa in its industry communication letter.

Bursa said operators would often post their own researches, make unsubstantiated statements, promotional news or hearsay to gain the confidence of their followers and lure them into following their stock tips.

“The false or misleading statements regarding the stock are spread while the operators are accumulating large quantities of it or have it accumulated earlier at a much lower price,” said the stock exchange.

Bursa said the operators were persuasive in the chatrooms to entice people into buying the stock with the end goal of running up the prices.

The stock exchange spelt out other methods used to generate interest, which included order stacking or layering, slicing of orders into small quantities to give an appearance of active trading as well as aggressive buying and selling.

“These parties could have multiple accounts opened and operated at a broker or brokers, as well as online trades in creating a hype of activities to attract others to come into the market,” it said.

When the stock price is pumped up due to an increase in trading volume, the operators behind the schemes will sell their stocks before the hype stops.

“The exit of the operators will cause the price to plummet while innocent investors who bought high and sold low will lose their money,” it added.

Bursa said it wanted to share the observations with brokers so that they become aware of such activities and alert their representatives and clients to exercise caution and diligence.


   

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