SEBI has imposed penalties on 31 individuals including, Bollywood actor Arshad Warsi and his wife Maria Goretti for running a YouTube-run share pump-and-dump operation.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India received certain complaints wherein it was inter alia alleged that there was price manipulation and offloading of shares by certain entities in the scrip of Sadhna Broadcast Limited. The said complaints alleged that misleading YouTube videos with false content, backed by paid marketing campaigns worth crores of rupees for additional reach, were being uploaded to lure investors. Once these unsuspecting investors entered the scrip, the said entities allegedly offloaded their holding at an inflated price.

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“All the Noticees are restrained from buying, selling or dealing in securities either directly or indirectly, in any manner whatsoever until further orders. If the Noticees have any open position in any exchange traded derivative contracts, as on the date of this Order, they may close out / square off such open positions within 3 months from the date of this Order or at the expiry of such contracts, whichever is earlier,” SEBI said.

“SEBI is killing it with these enforcement orders. Yesterday’s against the pump & dump schemes peddled by selling greed & unrealistic returns through social media & YouTube should serve as a powerful deterrent. These scams had become the easiest game in town for manipulators,” Zerodha Founder Nithin Kamath said in a tweet