|Canadian duo Curry and Winick busted in Bangkok for elaborate global penny stock scam
Thailand police working with FBI agents and US Embassy officials in Bangkok have arrested two Canadians accused of scamming more than US$140 million from investors worldwide in a penny stock fraud. They face extradition proceedings.
Gregory Curry, 63, was arrested Tuesday at his ex-wife's house in Kabin Buri district in the eastern province of Prachin Buri.
Police said the suspected mastermind, 55-year-old Sandy Winick, regarded as the fraud kingpin, was nabbed over the weekend.
They are among nine men the FBI suspects of augmenting the share price of worthless stocks of small companies and unloading them to unsuspecting investors from about 35 countries.
Winick was arrested in 2011 in Bangkok for a call center scam but escaped bail.
Last week, the FBI arrested six men in New York, Arizona, New Jersey, Florida, and California — and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in coordination with the FBI, arrested a seventh man on a provisional arrest warrant in Ontario, Canada.
Canadian Winick is charged as the lead defendant in two separate but related schemes, the FBI said. They are alleged to have pulled off a global “pump and dump" scheme in which they fraudulently "pumped up" the share price of worthless penny stocks and then "dumped" billions of shares of those stocks by unloading them on unsuspecting victim investors across the world.
Both Canadians operated boiler rooms in at least four countries that induced investors in penny stocks, including many of the same victims from the "pump and dump" scheme, to pay advance fees that they promised would enable the victims to sell their penny stocks and recover losses that they incurred. In reality, the FBI said, they simply stole the fees without providing any services, fraudulently extracting millions of additional dollars from their victims.
One of them had boasted: “I tell you what man...hitting the Americans would be like taking money from a baby.”
Winick boasted in intercepted phone calls about how he maintained fake passports in assumed names and how regulators and law enforcement officials could never reach him in Thailand.
The FBI said Winick has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud, four counts of securities fraud, and two counts of false personation of an officer of the United States. Curry has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud, and two counts of false personation of an officer of the United States. —The Standard/AP