The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has taken action against a pump-and-dump operation on YouTube, indicating the regulator’s increased vigilance of social media and its determination to prevent retail investors from being deceived by fraudulent schemes.
The case involves two YouTube channels operated by Manish Mishra, who was part of a group accused of manipulating the share prices of Sadhna Broadcast Limited and Sharpline Broadcast. The scheme resulted in illegal gains of Rs 41.85 crore.
The investigation found that the two channels, “The Advisor” and “Moneywise,” were promoting false and misleading news to convince investors to buy the stocks of Sadhna Broadcast Limited for extraordinary profits.
Following the release of the misleading videos, there was an increase in the price and trading volumes of the Sadhna scrip, which was likely influenced by a large number of retail investors who were misled by the content of the YouTube videos.
Interestingly, Bollywood actor Arshad Warsi and his wife Maria Goretti Warsi were found to have benefited from the scam and were penalised by SEBI in relation to the case. SEBI calculated that Warsi made a profit of Rs 29.43 lakh, while his wife bagged Rs 37.56 lakh.
As a result, SEBI has directed the impounding and retention of profits made by the actor couple and other accused in the case. The couple, along with others named in the case, has been directed to deposit the impounded amount in a scheduled bank within 15 days, with a lien created in favour of SEBI.
Fraudulent schemes highlighted on YouTube
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has penalised Bollywood actor Arshad Warsi and his wife, Maria Goretti Warsi and several others for their involvement in a share pump-and-dump scheme operated through two YouTube channels.
The case involved a nexus of players accused of making illegal gains worth Rs 41.85 crore by peddling false and misleading news recommending investors to buy stocks of Sadhna Broadcast Limited.
The SEBI crackdown highlights the increasing use of social media platforms, particularly YouTube, to carry out fraudulent schemes and manipulate stock prices. It also underscores the need for regulatory authorities to remain vigilant and take strong action against such schemes to protect retail investors from financial losses.
As a result, the total number of retail investors in the scrip rose from 857 to 55,343, and some promoters, key management personnel, and non-promoter shareholders.
SEBI has directed the impounding and retaining of profits made by the actor couple and other accused in the case, barred them from accessing the markets, and directed them to deposit the impounded amount in a scheduled bank in 15 days with a lien created in favour of SEBI.