Who Falls Prey to the Wolf of Wall Street? Investor Participation in Market Manipulation
80 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2017 Last revised: 25 Apr 2022
Date Written: April 22, 2022
Price distortions created by so-called “pump-and-dump” schemes are well known, but relatively little is known about the investors in these frauds. By examining 470 “pump-and-dump” schemes using 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, the losses, and the characteristics of the individuals who invest in such schemes. Our evidence suggests that participation is quite common with nearly 8% of active investors participating in at least one “pump-and-dump” losing on average nearly 30%. We identify several distinct types among participating investors, some of which (i.e., day trader) should not be viewed as falling prey to the schemes. We show that investor types respond differently to market manipulation, which poses challenges in designing investor protections. We also show that portfolio composition and past trading behavior better explain tout participation than demographics. Moreover, the immediate effects of the schemes are only part of their adverse impact. We identify broader and longer lasting ramifications for participating investors beyond their direct financial losses.
Keywords: Market manipulation, Pump-and-dump schemes, Securities regulation, Fraud, Investor protection, Lottery stocks, Household finance, Penny Stocks
JEL Classification: D14, G11, G18, K42, M48
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation