A Canadian who was the final suspect being sought in an international penny stock fraud scheme that swindled investors of more than $140 million was arrested in Thailand on Tuesday.
Gregory Curry — one of four Canadians among nine accused of participating in the alleged crime ring — was arrested in Bangkok and is facing extradition to the U.S., the Federal Bureau of Investigations said.
“The indictment and arrests are the result of one of the largest international penny stock investigations ever conducted by the Department of Justice and the FBI,” the bureau said in a release, adding that the operation involved the RCMP and authorities in England, Thailand and China.
Authorities have called the scheme one of the largest penny stock frauds in history, saying it victimized tens of thousands of people in the United States, Canada and 33 other countries.
The FBI alleges 63-year-old Curry aided the fraud ring’s Canadian leader in securities fraud and advance fee schemes.
Sandy Winick, the alleged mastermind of the fraud scheme, was arrested Saturday in Thailand.
Canadians Gregory Ellis, 46, and Kolt Curry, 38, were taken into custody Aug. 13, along with five Americans accused in the scheme.
It’s alleged the defendants were involved in a massive “pump and dump” operation — buying controlling interests in sketchy startup companies, then artificially inflating their value by promoting them in fictitious emails, social media messages and news releases.
Court papers say the defendants then victimized the same investors by convincing them to pay advance fees in return for helping them sell their securities or join lawsuits to reclaim their losses.
“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants Sandy Winick and Gregory Curry used our securities markets as a platform from which to run elaborate fraudulent schemes to victimize tens of thousands of unsuspecting investors across the globe,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement.
“They swindled investors into buying billions of shares of worthless stock, then turned around and used a second scam to pick their pockets yet again. They thought that they could simply run away from their crimes…we once again showed that fraudsters cannot hide from the law.”
Gregory Curry has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud and two counts of false personation of an officer of the United States.