A bit different from the billion dollar frauds that frequently made the headlines in the years past, a complaint filed on October 5, 2014 by the justice department in the federal district court in Manhattan accuses two former New York brokers of securities fraud and conspiracy for secretly adding a few pennies to the cost of securities trades they processed to generate $18.7 million in gains. The SEC also filed civil charges against the men, and added another broker as a defendant. The SEC’s complaint alleges that from at least 2005 through at least February 2009, the defendants perpetrated the scheme by falsifying execution prices and embedding hidden markups or markdowns on over 36,000 customer transactions. According to the SEC, the defendants charged small commissions—typically pennies or fractions of pennies per share; the scheme was devious and difficult to detect because they selectively engaged in it when the volatility in the market was sufficient to conceal the fraud. One of the defendants, who was in charge of entering the prices into the trading records and playing a critical role by controlling the flow of information, already pleaded guilty to securities fraud and conspiracy.
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