Some interesting developments took place in the past year which led to action on behalf of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and US Law Enforcement.
The former took action in suspending some 35 companies which were "the subject of recent and repeated spam email campaigns" [Read the DOJ press release here.] That caused a huge drop in the profits of stock spammers at the time (and their sponsors, who are the ones that organize these spam runs in the first place.)
The latter arrested Alan Ralsky [read the DOJ press release here, and yes I've commented on that arrest here before.]
Ralsky clearly had a well-organized group of mailers and money movers under his tutelage, and all of them were similarly indicted and investigated, notably on James E. Fite, aka bulkerforum.biz member "buba".
Following those two actions, practically no stock spam was sent by anyone for quite some time.
All of that changed in the past week, and (tellingly) the stock which is being promoted is not a new one. Cyberhand Technologies, whose stock symbol CYHA.PK should be familiar to anyone with an email address these days, has been the subject of several dozen large-scale stock-spamming pump and dump operations during the past three years.
If you're unclear on what any of this means, you can read up on the Wikipedia topic of pump and dump stock spamming here.
I previously blogged about two companies (Goldmark Industries [GDKI] and China World Trade Corp. [CWTD],) both of which turned out to be under investigation by the SEC and the DOJ specifically for their being the subject of very large stock spamming campaigns. [blog posting here.]
They both had sketchy websites, making dubious claims, which I investigated and found to be completely false. GDKI had made no such deals as their website stated, and CWTD was not building offices where they claimed to be doing so. I doubt that this figured strongly in the DOJ investigations, but it certainly should have raised an investors concern that these were false claims from two widely spammed companies.
So I decided to investigate Cyberhand Technologies as well.
Cyberhand Technologies' corporate website is located at http://www.cyberhand.com/, but many of their press releases also list http://www.cyberhandrobotics.com/ as an alternate site. I have been trying to get a response out of anyone at Cyberhand for at least two years now, with absolutely no results.
The following are a series of statements of opinion, but it's based on several years of investigating these operations.
In my opinion:
Some of the sure signs that a company exists solely to have a stock presence are...
- Their website talks in mostly vague terms regarding their actual products.
- Their website never shows any of their alleged products, but merely describes them in glowing terms.
- Their website seems to talk in terms of their hopes for the products, rather than what the products are actually capable of, or actually will do when released.
- Their website consistently refers to their stock symbol, and to press releases which are similarly vague about concrete descriptions of actual products, or sales of same, and which again consistently mention the stock symbol.
But to me (again, my opinion) the most important point that underscores the likelihood that this is what I refer to as a "paper company" or a "shell company" custom made for stock manipulation on a large scale is...
- Nobody in the industries they claim to be a major player or performer in has ever heard of them, and have never seen or heard of their alleged products.
In the case of Goldmark Industries, they consistently made claims that they were involved in deals with major hip hop stars like Puff Daddy (note: at the time he hadn't called himself that for several months), when in fact no such deal was ever made, nor had it ever been.
You can read some of their press releases on their corporate news page, which still exists here. You'll notice that all of these news releases stop rather abruptly in May 2007, which is when the SEC suspended trading on their stock, and the DOJ announced their investigation into the 35 companies. Notice the tone of their releases:
Goldmark and Radio Active Pictures on Brink of Closing Deal to Acquire Rights to Classic American Novel and Sign Major Star to Film
Habana Blues Major Hit at Latin American Film Festival, Audiences Eager for Release of Film's Hot Soundtrack
Lots of hints of hopefulness there, isn't there. We never, not once, see news that they "have released" anything, or "have closed a deal". Merely that they are "on Brink" of doing so, or that audiences are "Eager" for such a release.
I have several contacts throughout the entertainment industry, and I can tell you that absolutely none of them had ever heard of Goldmark Entertainment, and several of them confirmed concretely that none of their claims were true.
You'll notice that they also have an entry about the stock suspension here. It features a paragraph which specifically highlights this "wishful thinking" method of communicating:
You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements in this press release. This press release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Words such as "will", "anticipates", "believes", "plans", "goal", "expects", "future", "intends" and similar expressions are used to identify these forward-looking statements. Actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements for many reasons, including the risks we face as described in this press release.
No mention there of "hope", "eager", "buzz" or "brink". :)
I note (as do my industry contacts) that to date they still have no concrete deals or releases. It's unclear to me whether they have resumed trading on GDKI or not.
Goldmark Entertainment may be a legitimate company, but their track record as a spamvertised and heavily-manipulated stock symbol coupled with their weird method of talking about their alleged "deals" leads me to believe that they exist solely to have a symbol on the over the counter or "pink sheets" market.
Similarly with China World Trade, I received feedback from several colleagues who lived in the area that they were claiming that they were building new offices. No such construction has ever taken place.
So now we come to Cyberhand Technologies.
What is their primary product? According to their corporate website: a "Pocketop Keyboard", a wireless folding keyboard to be used with a palm handheld device. It was released in 2001 and last reviewed in January of 2003.
If you visit the pocketop website, you will see their contact page mentions the following:
As of November 2003 Pocketop Computer Corporation will be managed by Cyberhand Technologies Inc.
Given that RIM's very popular Blackberry devise, and especially most modern Palm devices (notably the Treo and the Centros) feature built in keyboards, this would have to be seen as a legacy product. Definitely not something that the tech world at large would be clamoring for in 2008.
Next up: the "Black Widow Games Controller", which claims to be the "Fastest Game Controller In The World!". I notice that they do not include an image of the actual controller itself, merely a weirdly-designed packaging image making wild claims about its functionality.
A True 3D Controller
No Carpal Tunnel Or RSI Injuries
Designed for Ultimate Comfort and Speed
Sleek, Modern, One-Handed & Ambidextrous
I have asked several videogame stores in several states and provinces whether they have ever heard of this controller. Not one of them has. Nor was there any real excitement on behalf of game retailers when I mentioned that their alleged manufacturer claimed it was the fastest controller in the world. That statement apparently has no bearing on how good a controller is, from a retail marketing standpoint, unless it's a wireless controller, of which there are literally hundreds.
Nobody I know at any game publishing company is aware of this "product" either, nor have they ever heard of Cyberhand Technologies.
One would think that even one person in that industry would have heard of this company.
Performing a search for "cyberhand black widow" (without quotes) only turns up the Cyberhand website, followed of course by several glowing press releases making claims that "Cyberhand will be releasing 500 of its Black Widow controllers to qualified testers who will receive a fifty percent (50%) discount to release retail for their participation and control testing in advance of its fall release." [source]
This is interesting for a pretty key reason: The most recent stock spamming run began on the morning of June 10th, 2008.
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2008 09:27:34 +0200
User-Agent: Thunderbird 18.104.22.168 (Windows/20070728)
Subject: June 10 StockWatch
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
Company: Cyberhand Tech
Status: Buy Recommendation
A Definite Watch on tuesday
That's the exact date of the above-linke "press release", which (again) nobody I know in the gaming industry can confirm.
In fact the dates of all previous stock runs also coincide with the date of press releases for CYHA.
Is CYHA actually behind the stock spam? Possibly not, but they never respond to any questions regarding these relentless spam runs, or make any kind of public communication to distance themselves from these manipulations.
Whoever is actually sending these messages: you (and your stock sponsor) should know by now that stock spamming inevitably leads to arrest, and jail time, followed by seizure of your assets and lengthy trials.
Continuing to promote this "company" is only going to lead to your identity being uncovered, and prosecution.
Stock traders: I would be extremely wary of any press releases from Cyberhand Technologies, especially any press release which makes a point of mentioning their stock symbol, CYHA.
Additionally: I would never, not if you paid me huge sums of money to do so, invest in a stock which has for three years now been closely associated with repeated stock manipulation supported by illegal spamming campaigns.
Use your head. Don't invest in any stock which is promoted via spammers.
SiL / IKS / concerned citizen