A pump and dump scheme is a method used by fraudsters to artificially boost the price of a security that they own shares of in order to make a profit. According to the Securities & Exchange Commission, pump and dump schemes consist of two parts. First, stock promoters will try to boost the stock price by sharing misleading or false statements about the underlying company’s performance. The promoters may use several methods to spread this false information, including cold calling, emailing, and social media. The promoters may claim to have inside information on the company, and will often encourage their followers to quickly purchase shares of the stock.
Then, once the stock price is inflated by this false information, the promoter will put his own shares of stock on the market, selling them at an artificially high price. This harms investors purchasing these shares because they now hold stock that may drop drastically in price once it is revealed that the information is false.
Engaging in a pump and dump scheme is a violation of both FINRA rules and federal securities laws. FINRA requires that its members refrain from engaging in fraudulent or deceptive practices. FINRA also requires its members to “observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade.”