A self-proclaimed "financial astrologist" and 20 others swindled investors in four companies out of more than $30 million, the Securities and Exchange Commission said in lawsuits filed Thursday.
At the center of the alleged schemes is stock promoter Edward Durante, who used offshore companies he controlled to manipulate penny stocks, the SEC said. In one of four suits the agency filed in New York, Durante is accused of hiring Henry Weingarten, a financial advisor who relies on astrology to manage investments, to tout a stock on his Web site.
"Defendants reaped more than $30 million in illegal profits by secretly controlling the trading in these stocks through a network of promoters, brokers and market makers and then by dumping the stocks at artificially inflated prices to unsuspecting investors," the SEC said in a statement.
Stocks allegedly manipulated were U.N. Dollars Corp. (ticker symbol: UDLL), Wamex Holdings Inc. (WAMX), Ramoil Management Ltd. (RAMO) and AbsoluteFuture.com (AFTI). Former officers of the companies also are accused in the civil suits.