Feds, online trading firms meet to fight fraud

With online accounts used to do pump-and-dump schemes, law enforcement and online brokerages meet to find ways to combat such fraud.

Security experts from E*Trade, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade and Scottrade and other trading firms will meet with agents from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service, The Washington Post reports.

The companies and government officials are meeting to discuss ways to combat online fraud, as the industry is reeling from revelations that online trading accounts were compromised and used by crime gangs.

E*Trade spokesperson Connie Dotson confirmed her company would be there to discuss fraud-fighting ideas.

"To deter criminal activity and protect customer assets, we work with industry, law enforcement and federal regulators on an ongoing basis to share trend line data to help identify attack profiles," Dotson said. She emphasized that the company never shares customer-specific information.

Kelly Doria, a spokesperson for Scottrade, said: "We are also trying to learn more about the threats facing the industry and other financial institutions who are all dealing with this issue, and this meeting and training are all about how we can better do that."

Topics to be discussed include ways to better share data on stocks that market partners have flagged as showing unusual activity, as well as real-time matching of stock spam to potential fraudulent activity.

In January, a federal court indicted three men from India for running pump-and-dump scams that affected 60 customers at nine separate brokerage firms, causing losses of more than $2 million. According to the Justice Department, the men used their own online trading accounts to purchase huge volumes of shares in certain penny stocks, then used hijacked accounts to fraudulently purchase more shares of the same stocks. When the stock price went up, they sold their personal shares for a "substantial profit," according to the indictment.

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