SEC Touts Its Fight Against Stock Manipulation Spam

Three companies, accused of being susceptible to delivering spam that could manipulate stock prices, were forced on Thursday by the Securities and Exchange Commission to suspend trading securities for 10 business days.

The SEC, in a statement, said the three companies failed to provide adequate and accurate information about themselves to investors, and as a result, could be susceptible to engaging in stock-touting spam. The SEC didn’t state whether these companies, which all trade over-the-counter securities, delivered such spam.

The SEC said its actions are part of an initiative, launched in March, to fight spam-driven stock market manipulation. Since that time, the SEC reported suspended trading in the securities of 39 companies. It also said it brought several spam-related enforcement actions.

In the latest round of trading suspensions, Alliance Transcription Services (ATSS), Prime Petroleum Group (PPGU), and T.W. Christian (TWCI) are temporarily barred from trading its securities. The ban is lifted after Oct. 17.

Executives from the three companies could not be reached to respond to the SEC’s actions.

The SEC said its anti-spam efforts are paying off, citing an Internet security threat report published last month by Symantec. Spam related to financial services accounted for 21 percent of all spam during the first six months of 2007, down from 30 percent during the last half of 2006, according to Symantec. The security software vendor singled out the SEC’s actions for the decline.

Financial spam, once No. 1, has been surpassed by spam promoting commercial goods and services, including counterfeit designer purses and watches, according to Symantec.

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