According to the SEC’s complaint, Robert Murray purchased Fitbit call options just minutes before a fake tender offer that he orchestrated was filed on the SEC’s EDGAR system purporting that a company named ABM Capital LTD sought to acquire Fitbit’s outstanding shares at a substantial premium. Fitbit’s stock price temporarily spiked when the tender offer became publicly available on Nov. 10, 2016, and Murray sold all of his options for a profit of approximately $3,100.
SEC Files Fraud Charges Against Robert Murray
On May 19, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed fraud charges against Robert Murray, a Virginia-based mechanical engineer accused of scheming to manipulate the price of Fitbit stock by making a phony regulatory filing.
The SEC alleges that Robert Murray created an email account under the name of someone he found on the internet, and the email account was used to gain access to the EDGAR system. Robert Murray then allegedly listed that person as the CFO of ABM Capital and used a business address associated with that person in the fake filing. The SEC also alleges that Robert Murray attempted to conceal his identity and actual location at the time of the filing after conducting research into prior SEC cases that highlighted the IP addresses the false filers used to submit forms on EDGAR. According to the SEC’s complaint, it appeared as though the system was being accessed from a different state by using an IP address registered to a company located in Napa, California.
“As alleged in our complaint, Murray used deceptive techniques in a concerted effort to evade detection, but we were able to connect the dots quickly and hold him accountable,” said Stephanie Avakian, Acting Director of the SEC Enforcement Division.
In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced criminal charges against Robert Murray.
The SEC’s complaint charges Murray with violating antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws, including Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Sections 10(b) and 14(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rules 10b-5 and 14e-8.
For further information about this securities law blog post, please contact Brenda Hamilton, Securities Attorney at 101 Plaza Real S, Suite 202 N, Boca Raton, Florida, (561) 416-8956 or by email at [email protected]. This securities law blog post is provided as a general informational service to clients and friends of Hamilton & Associates Law Group and should not be construed as, and does not constitute, legal and compliance advice on any specific matter, nor does this message create an attorney-client relationship. Please note that the prior results discussed herein do not guarantee similar outcomes.
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