December 7, 2007 in Business

Eight charged in pump-and-dump scheme

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Eight people have been arrested statewide in connection with a penny-stock scheme, including a Bellevue woman who was banned eight years from participating in U.S. securities markets.

A 21-count federal grand jury indictment alleges they fleeced investors of $1.2 million through “pump-and-dump” scams, using mass spam and faxes to falsely inflate the worth of a stock, then dumping the shares through brokerages in the United States, Canada, and the islands of Turk and Caicos.

A ninth person involved in the scheme is Bellevue attorney Tolan Furusho, who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and two counts of failure to file federal income tax returns.

Furusho once represented a tiny Spokane Valley company called Courtside Products that found itself ensnared in a national crackdown on pump-and-dump schemes two years ago when it hired a consultant who then employed a mob-connected stock promoter in Arizona.

The entire effort backfired and left Courtside struggling to clear its name and survive.

The Bellevue woman arrested is Beverlee Kamerling, 63. Her son, 22-year-old Nicholas Alexander, and five others from Florida and Utah also were named in the indictment for secretly acquiring publicly traded companies to begin the pump-and-dumps.

The companies involved included America Asia Energy Corp., Coattec Industries Inc., Detex Security Systems Inc., and Global Gaming Network.

Kamerling, who repaid $1.5 million in ill-gotten gains from the previous stock scam, attempted to hide her involvement this time by installing her mother, son and boyfriend as officers of the various companies, according to the federal prosecutors in Seattle. They also allege she failed to file income tax returns in 2004 and 2005 on income of about $850,000.

Alexander’s role included shredding documents after he learned of the grand jury subpoenas and of using prepaid cell phones to avoid detection by the FBI.

Also indicted were Joel Ramsden, 32, of Delray Beach, Fla.; John Johansen, 37, of Plantation Fla.; John Worthen, 66, of Salt Lake City; Seth Quinto, 36, of Miami; Donald Goldstein, 65, of Highland Beach, Fla.; and his son, 35-year-old Jamie Goldstein, of Boca Raton, Fla.

Securities crimes carry maximum penalties of 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.

The case was investigated by multiple agencies, including the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, the FBI and the IRS’s crimes unit.


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