Friday, 23 May 2014

Avestra's Next Investors pump-and-dump AnaeCo

Avestra Capital runs a pump-and-dump operation, through its corporate authorised representative S3 Consortium Pty Ltd, offering to artificially inflate the price of Australian small cap shares for a fee. The website spruiks shares the criminals are trying to pump-and-dump, with these deliberately misleading "tips" and "opportunities" spread through spam emails and social media. The website even has a special VIP section for the extremely gullible to self-select. Most recently, Next Investors pump-and-dumped AnaeCo (ANQ.AX), an eternally loss-making trash management company with ties to other elements of the Australian financial underworld.

ANQ follows the standard pattern of manipulated shares, with long term catastrophic shareholder destruction interspersed by ramps designed to benefit insiders. This is because ANQ is a listed securities fraud. On 21 March 2014, the Avestra criminals started the pump-and-dump with a Next Investors article claiming ANQ had miraculously solved the world's waste problems. Global waste crisis solved!

Over the next few days the criminals that had commissioned this pump-and-dump could unload their ANQ junk shares at up to 55% higher prices, fleecing the unsuspecting until the engineered ramp inevitably faded. What happened next is as idiotic as any episode of "America's Dumbest Criminals". When queried by the ASX about the mysterious 21 March price increase, the criminals at AnaeCo just had to say they had no idea, using the template provided here. ASIC would have written it off as yet another one of their magical market mysteries. Instead, AnaeCo responded that the price increase could be attributed to a positive article by "Stocks Digital".

But the name "Stocks Digital" is not mentioned anywhere in the article published on Next Investors. The website offers to "raise awareness of small caps" using "social media and the internet", providing no other information except a number to an Australian mobile phone. By mentioning Stocks Digital, the AnaeCo criminals inadvertently proved they had commissioned the pump-and-dump, and supplied the contact information of the pump-and-dumpers. In May ANQ announced that an ANQ director had lost control of a 163m shareholding, followed by the announcement of his resignation. The share price ramp to $0.013 at the end of the March quarter had artificially inflated the "market" value of the director shareholding used as security for a loan. Just before end of trading on May 23, 163m ANQ shares changed hands at $0.006.

According to ASIC, pump-and-dump schemes are illegal and operators "can be jailed and fined heavily". However, since ASIC never enforces this, ASIC has effectively legalized pump-and-dump schemes in Australia. As a result, such fraud is guaranteed to become more common.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Dr.Ben! It was helpful to know this. Now, they (s3 consortium) have started giving a disclosure statement along with the articles about conflict of interest. Reader beware and buyer double beware!!