FINRA released regulatory notice 21-03, FINRA Urges Firms to Review Their Policies and Procedures Relating to Red Flags of Potential Securities Fraud Involving Low-Priced Securities, discussing issues with these securities offerings and fraud. Specifically, including those involving COVID-19 and cannabis related businesses, which appear to have been part of potential pump-and-dump or market manipulation schemes that target unsuspecting investors.
In the notice, FINRA states that “Low-priced securities tend to be volatile and trade in low volumes. It may be difficult to find accurate information about them. There is a long history of bad actors exploiting these features to engage in fraudulent manipulations of low-priced securities. Frequently, these actors take advantage of trends and major events — such as the growth in cannabis-related businesses or the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — to perpetrate the fraud.”