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14 arrested for stock fraud

Feb. 14, 2013 at 4:51 PM

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Federal authorities in Southern California said they arrested 14 people in a stock fraud case known as a "pump and dump" scheme.

The scheme involves promoting worthless stock, driving up the price, and then unloading the stock for a significant profit.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles said actress Pamela Anderson was not accused of any wrongdoing although she promoted one of the valueless companies in an infomercial, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

Anderson promoted a company called frogads.com, the Times said.

Prosecutors said one of the suspects in the case were taped describing one of the companies by saying: "There's nothing in there. There's nothing to the company. It's monkey business."

"This scheme hurt innocent victims who were looking at the market, seeing high-volume trading and thinking, 'This will be a good investment,'" U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said.

"What they don't know is it's all a sham," he said.

Among the 14 arrested is Sherman Mazur, described by Birotte as "a serial market manipulator." Mazur, whose record includes convictions for bankruptcy fraud and tax evasion, faces 30 felony charges that could result in a sentence of more than 100 years in prison, the Times said.

Investor losses in the pump-and-dump scheme could reach $300 million, prosecutors said.

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