Bitdefender’s Antispam Lab has identified a Wolf of Wall Street-styled scam in which millions of penny stock spam emails have been dispersed through Australian inboxes from several thousand unique IP addresses.
The scam is being related to the Jordan Belfort memoir (popularised by the film of the same name, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese) because it employs a similar boiler room, ‘pump and dump’ sales operation as outlined in the book.
Having pinged more than three million unique email samples, Bitdefender brands the scam the “largest and most successful stock spam attack in 2014.” Readers are attracted with enticing phrases which spammers attempt to legitimise with links to web sites such as Reuters, Bloomberg, Yahoo Finance, Market Watch, and the Nasdaq.
The scam has inflated the stock values of mineral deposit company, Confederation Minerals, with more than 1,620,000 stock transactions made by the time Bitdefender distributed a press statement at 10:38am.
Rich Pharmaceuticals, Rainbow International, and Inspiration Mining Corporation fell victim to similar scams this year.
“To monetise their efforts, fraudsters lure investors by telling them a penny stock will soon become very valuable. After thousands of victims buy stocks, cyber-crooks dump their overvalued shares back onto the market, sourcing high profits,” Bitdefender senior antispam researcher, Adrian Miron, said.
“These are today’s most vicious wolves of Wall Street as they no longer call potential investors to inflate stock values, but use a faster approach by emailing spam replicated in millions of samples.”
Miron said spammers pitching inflated stocks tend to focus on a single company, and move onto the next target once a certain number of inboxes are reached.
The antivirus software vendor said it warned Confederation that scammers are inflating its stock value, but claims no response was received by the aforementioned time.
The vendor has also contacted the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which said it is processing many complaints from individual investors and others.
SEC investor assistance specialist, Doreen Mosaphir, said, “We appreciate you [Bitdefender] taking the time to alert us to your concerns; however, we are unable to comment on the matter. The SEC conducts its investigations on a confidential and non-public basis and neither confirms nor denies the existence of an investigation unless the SEC brings charges against someone involved.”