San Diego penny stock tout and manipulator Lawrence Isen, who has been in trouble with law enforcement about as long as he has been in the business, was named July 12 in civil charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and criminal charges by the U.S. Attorney's office in the Eastern District of New York, for participation in stock manipulation scheme that preyed on the elderly.
The SEC said that Isen and 12 other individuals ran a cold-calling scam that bilked more than $10 million from 100 victims, many elderly. It was basically a pump and dump scheme, said the SEC. The participants got tiny, penny stocks cheap, then used fraudulent techniques to run the stocks up while they peddled them to naive investors. Then they dumped the stocks on the market, deflating the stocks immediately and leaving the victims' pockets empty.
Isen's MarketByte LLC, which promotes penny stocks, was named in the SEC action. Bloomberg lists MarketByte's address as 3525 Del Mar Heights Road Suite 334 in Carmel Valley.
The U.S. Attorney's office cast a somewhat broader net, charging 14 defendants, including Isen, for running a multi- million dollar stock manipulation scheme — the scam cited by the SEC. The criminal charges include conspiracy to commit securities fraud and money laundering. The government restrained Isen's residence, seizing bank accounts containing alleged criminal proceeds and automobiles purchased with alleged criminal proceeds, according to the indictment.
Isen and four others were charged in a scheme to launder $14.7 million.
In 1993, the SEC charged Isen and cohorts with running a stock manipulation scheme. In 2001, Isen was slapped with a cease-and-desist order by the SEC for defrauding brokerage customers with deceitful claims and other manipulative devices. In 2003, the SEC charged Isen with publishing stock recommendations and getting thousands of shares for his touts, and not telling those he sold them to how he had gotten them.