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Who falls prey to the Wolf of Wall Street? Investor participation in market manipulation

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  • Leuz, Christian
  • Meyer, Steffen
  • Muhn, Maximilian
  • Soltes, Eugene
  • Hackethal, Andreas

Abstract

Manipulative communications touting stocks are common in capital markets around the world. Although the price distortions created by so-called "pump-and-dump" schemes are well known, little is known about the investors in these frauds. By examining 421 "pump-and-dump" schemes between 2002 and 2015 and a proprietary set of trading records for over 110,000 individual investors from a major German bank, we provide evidence on the participation rate, magnitude of the investments, losses, and the characteristics of the individuals who invest in such schemes. Our evidence suggests that participation is quite common and involves sizable losses, with nearly 6% of active investors participating in at least one "pump-and-dump" and an average loss of nearly 30%. Moreover, we identify several distinct types of investors, some of which should not be viewed as falling prey to these frauds. We also show that portfolio composition and past trading behavior can better explain participation in touted stocks than demographics. Our analysis offers insights into the challenges associated with designing effective investor protection against market manipulation.

Suggested Citation

  • Leuz, Christian & Meyer, Steffen & Muhn, Maximilian & Soltes, Eugene & Hackethal, Andreas, 2018. "Who falls prey to the Wolf of Wall Street? Investor participation in market manipulation," CFS Working Paper Series 609, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:cfswop:609
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    Cited by:

    1. Bäckman, Claes & Hanspal, Tobin, 2018. "Participation and Losses in Multi-Level Marketing: Evidence from an FTC Settlement," Working Papers 2018:13, Lund University, Department of Economics, revised 22 Aug 2019.
    2. Sugata Roychowdhury & Suraj Srinivasan, 2019. "The Role of Gatekeepers in Capital Markets," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(2), pages 295-322, May.
    3. Prateek Sharma & Samit Paul, 2021. "Game of names: Blockchain premium in corporate names," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 42(5), pages 1059-1078, July.
    4. Andreas Hackethal & Tobin Hanspal & Dominique M Lammer & Kevin Rink, 2022. "The Characteristics and Portfolio Behavior of Bitcoin Investors: Evidence from Indirect Cryptocurrency Investments [The investor in structured retail products: advice driven or gambling oriented]," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 26(4), pages 855-898.
    5. Aloosh, Arash & Choi, Hyung-Eun & Ouzan, Samuel, 2023. "The tail wagging the dog: How do meme stocks affect market efficiency?," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 68-78.
    6. Anirudh Dhawan & Tālis J Putniņš, 2023. "A New Wolf in Town? Pump-and-Dump Manipulation in Cryptocurrency Markets," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 27(3), pages 935-975.
    7. Buhlmann, Florian & Doerrenberg, Philipp & Voget, Johannes & Loos, Benjamin, 2020. "How do taxes affect the trading behavior of private investors? Evidence from individual portfolio data," ZEW Discussion Papers 20-047, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    8. Imisiker, Serkan & Tas, Bedri Kamil Onur, 2018. "Wash trades as a stock market manipulation tool," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 92-98.
    9. Taro Tsuchiya, 2021. "Profitability of cryptocurrency Pump and Dump schemes," Digital Finance, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 149-167, June.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Market manipulation; Pump-and-dump schemes; Securities regulation; Fraud; Investor protection; Lottery stocks; Household finance;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • M48 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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