A San Clemente man was among five indicted Thursday on stock market manipulation conspiracy charges for their role in an alleged "pump-and-dump" scheme.
Charles Strongo, 58, and his co-defendants are accused of selling shares of Global WholeHealth Partners Corporation (Ticker: GWHP) at inflated prices, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a press release Thursday. GWHP sells COVID-19 diagnostic tests, among other items.
The defendants are accused of maintaining control of the company's shares, driving up the price and promoting the stock online and in newsletters, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
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In early 2021, GWHP's share price increased by more than 200% in the span of weeks, nearly reaching $2 per share. Its closing price on Feb. 17, 2022 was 6.5 cents.
“These defendants engaged in a conspiracy to inflate stock prices through false and misleading information to enrich themselves and make a quick profit,” a statement from FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner included in the release read in part.
U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman warned that market manipulators would be held accountable.
“Pump and dump schemes deteriorate the integrity of the securities markets and destroy Main Street investors’ confidence in their ability to invest on a level playing field,” Grossman said in the release.
Brian Vomer, 58, of Carson City, Nevada
Joshua Yafa, 47, of Boca Raton, Florida
Jamie Yafa, 43, of Kissemmee, Florida
Charles Strongo, 58, of San Clemente, California
Carl Marciniak, 57, of Minden, Nevada
All five men face conspiracy and securities fraud charges and could spend up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is also taking civil action against some of the defendants.