SEC Accuses Man of Making Bogus Regulatory Filing to Manipulate Stock Price

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
May 22, 2017

The Securities and Exchange Commission said that a Virginia-based mechanical engineer concocted an elaborate scheme to make it look like the CFO of a major investment company was making a tender offer for Fitbit stock in order to drive up the price. The man, Robert W. Murray, purchased Fitbit call options just a few minutes before filing a fake tender offer on the SEC's EDGAR system saying that a company named ABM Capital LTD sought to acquire Fitbit’s outstanding shares at a substantial premium.  

The SEC said Murray create an email account using the name of someone he found off the Internet, which he then used to access the EDGAR system. Once in, he listed this person as the CFO of ABM Capital, using a business address associated with that person in the fake filing. He is also said to have taken active measures to conceal the IP address used in the fake filing after doing research into prior SEC cases on fake filings. 

Once the bogus offer became known to the public, the price of Fitbit stock spiked, at which point Murray is said to have sold his options for a profit of $3,100. 

“As alleged in our complaint, Murray used deceptive techniques in a concerted effort to evade detection, but we were able to connect the dots quickly and hold him accountable,” said Stephanie Avakian, Acting Director of the SEC Enforcement Division.

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced criminal charges against Murray.

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