WASHINGTON, Oct 4 (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday suspended trading in three companies as part of its anti-spam initiative, which the agency said is deterring e-mail campaigns that defraud investors.
The SEC earlier this year launched an initiative to cut the profit potential for stock-touting spam, and said on Thursday that spam-related complaints to its online complaint center have been cut in half.
The agency also noted that recent reports indicate a significant drop in the stock market spam getting to e-mail inboxes.
“Because of our aggressive enforcement efforts, there has been a reported 30 percent drop in financial spam, and that means fewer investors are getting ripped off,” said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox in a statement.
The Symantec Internet Security Threat Report released on Sept. 17 said the decrease “is due to a decline in spam touting penny stocks that was triggered by actions taken by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, which limited the profitability of this type of spam by suspending trading of the stocks that are touted.”
The most recent trading suspensions relate to three companies traded on the Pink Sheets: Alliance Transcription Services Inc ATSS.PK, Prime Petroleum Group Inc PPGU.PK, and T.W. Christian Inc (TWCI.PK).
The SEC said each of the companies changed its name on Aug. 14 and indicated it had a new business. The investor protection agency said the companies “have inadequately disclosed their assets, business operations and/or management, their current financial condition, and/or financing arrangements involving the issuance of the companies’ shares.”
The trading suspensions will last for 10 business days and started on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT).
Since the SEC started its anti-spam campaign on March 8, it has suspended trading in the securities of 39 companies.
“This initiative will continue, and we are going to pursue those behind these fraudulent campaigns,” said Bruce Karpati, the SEC’s assistant regional director in the New York office. (Reporting by Karey Wutkowski, editing by Brian Moss)