The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken action against 23 companies who made false or misleading statements regarding treatments, tests, and other schemes involving COVID-19. The SEC is warning investors against these fraudsters and the misconduct they may commit during the pandemic.
The latest companies under fire are Utah-based Predictive Technology Group Inc.
In Feb., the SEC warned that fraud could become rampant during the pandemic.
"Fraudsters often use the latest news developments to lure investors into scams. We have become aware of a number of Internet promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result."
Many biotech companies too small to be required to make the same financial disclosures to the SEC as their larger counterparts have seen their stock prices soar as people attempt to cash in on the testing and treatments for the novel coronavirus. These types of stocks, called microcap stocks, are "particularly vulnerable to fraudulent investment schemes" because of the lack of public information regarding the companies to which they belong.
However, the SEC has also identified problems caused by the information that is available to company insiders.
The SEC published a statement on March 23 addressing the issues arising in the securities markets due to COVID-19. The statement clarifies that directors, officers, employees, and consultants with non-public information must keep that information confidential and states that acting on this information would violate antifraud provisions. While the majority of the statement is a warning against insider-trading, it also warns potential investors against fraud.
"More generally, the Enforcement Division is committing substantial resources to ensuring that our Main Street investors are not victims of fraud or illegal practices in these unprecedented market and economic conditions. The Enforcement Division is committed to protecting investors and maintaining confidence in the fairness and integrity of our markets."
On April 15, the SEC also halted trading of Bravtek Solution Inc.