Millions of penny stock spam emails have been flooding inboxes these days, spreading a new “Wolf of Wall Street” scam and inflating stock values of a mineral deposit company based in Canada, according to the Bitdefender Antispam Lab.
With over 3 million unique samples, the wave started to grow last Thursday and soon became the largest stock spam attack in 2014, and also the most successful. The transactions volume reached over 1,620,000 stocks in just a couple of days after the spam wave hit, the highest registered by the company in the last half year, according to Bloomberg.
To boost their credibility, penny stock spammers use legitimate links to websites of reputable media outlets such as Reuters, Bloomberg, Yahoo Finance, Market Watch, and exchange leader Nasdaq. The spam wave comes from botnets with thousands of zombie computers distributed in countries such as the US, Spain, India, Australia, France, Germany, the UK, Romania and South Korea.
“These are today’s most vicious wolves of Wall Street. They no longer call potential investors to inflate stock values, but use a faster approach email spam replicated in millions of samples,” Bitdefender Senior Antispam Researcher Adrian Miron said. “As usual, success comes from high numbers, and our studies showed no targeted spam attack works better than a massive wave, naturally selecting the most gullible victims.”
Email subjects vary and are so general that curious victims are likely to open them: “Read up on this immediately,”, “Christmas is here early my friend,” “Do you still want this,” “Sorry for my late reply,” “Are you ready for this” etc.
“Want a solid investment that will yield very quick results?” spam messages read. “We all do, and for once there’s a stock tip that’s actually worth it. This stock is going to explode today mark my words. It will be at 30cents+ before day’s end and past 65cents by month’s end. You should move quickly.”
Spam pitching inflated stocks usually focus on a single company, the Bitdefender Labs said. A new campaign surges once every 2 to 3 months. Once the “Wolves of Wall Street” reach a high amount of inboxes, they move to the next target. Rich Pharmaceuticals Inc. (RCHA), Rainbow International Corp. (RNBI) and Inspiration Mining Corporation (IRMGF) are among this year’s targets.
The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority also warned that stock spam messages are proliferating this year, representing the “inbox equivalent of a boiler room sales operation.”
Known as the “pump and dump” scam, the trick was recently portrayed in the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street,” featuring Leonardo DiCaprio. To monetize 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, grabbing high profits.
The Confederation Minerals Ltd. (CNRMF) is dedicated to acquiring and developing mineral deposits in North America. Bitdefender warned the company that scammers are inflating its stock value through a massive spam wave, but it didn’t answer as of the time of writing.
Bitdefender also contacted the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, who said they are processing many complaints from individual investors and others.
“We appreciate you taking the time to alert us to your concerns; however, we are unable to comment on the matter,” SEC Investor Assistance Specialist Doreen Mosaphir said. “The SEC conducts its investigations on a confidential and nonpublic basis and neither confirms nor denies the existence of an investigation unless the SEC brings charges against someone involved.”