Boiler Room Operations

So-called “boiler room” operations have been successfully dismantled and prosecuted under the statutes. The classic boiler room example is a small company opened as a call center to sell a public company’s stock. First the callers will market the first tier of stocks to preferred customers as a sort of private IPO (usually these customers are aware of the nature of the operation). Next, the call center kicks into high gear, cold-calling hundreds of thousands of customers to share exciting information on a new stock and convincing them to buy in to avoid missing a great opportunity. The first tier holders will watch as the value of their stocks rise while the call center creates a market for their shares by drumming up demand. Once the boiler room operation determines that the peak price has been hit, the first tier is instructed to sell their shares at the high price, leaving the second tier to watch as the value of their shares plummets and the market dries up. Such operations are often referred to as “pump and dump” schemes, and closely resemble a Ponzi scheme. You can imagine how many counts of wire fraud could result from such an operation under the “separate and distinct offenses” formulation as each investor purchases shares by mailing a check or wiring money.