A California federal judge has ordered an attorney accused by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of acquiring millions from investors in a penny stock pump-and-dump scheme to pay $13.7 million. The $13.7 million is alleged to be the attorney’s profits from the scheme plus interest. The attorney didn’t appear in court to contest the charges.
Attorney Sued in Penny Stock Pump-And-Dump Scheme
Attorney Marcus A. Luna was sued by the SEC in 2016 for profiting from price increases of worthless, unregistered securities for companies Umax Group Corp. and Azure Holding Group Corp.
Luna used a series of shell companies and brokerage accounts to hide his control of the two companies, which were touted as being run by his co-conspirator Norrell Walker. According to the SEC, Luna and Walker were listed as the majority shareholders of Umax and Azure.
Walker ran an unregistered stock promotion company with several locations where operators cold-called customers and tried to convince them to buy the stocks. When investors agreed to buy the stocks, Walker would notify Luna, who would fill the orders with his shares through an offshore brokerage.
Luna and Walker artificially inflated the prices of the stock of two companies. Once Walker and his sales force stopped promoting Umax and Azure stock, the share prices and volume plummeted for both companies.
In addition to the pump-and-dump scheme, Walker’s telemarketers were paid double-digit commissions. According to the SEC, the total amount of hidden commissions was about $2.8 million.
Attorney Also Guilty of Wire Fraud and Prior Scams
Luna was arrested and pled guilty to a wire fraud charge over the same scheme and is currently awaiting sentencing. He has been suspended from the bar.
Prior to this case, the SEC claims that Luna was previously ordered to pay $7 million and barred from participating in penny stock offerings in 2014 for his role in a similar fraud scheme. To date, he hasn’t paid that fine.
Have You Lost Money to Securities Fraud?
If you believe you have been the victim of securities or other investment schemes, you may have certain legal rights that require your immediate attention.
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If you are looking for a securities fraud attorney to review your rights and options, the investment fraud lawyers at Dimond Kaplan & Rothstein, P.A. have recovered more than $100 million from banks and brokerage firms for their wrongful actions.