SEC files additional charges in alleged Fitbit securities scheme

By Marian Johns | Jul 16, 2018

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed additional fraud charges in a case relating to alleged false regulatory filings as part of a scheme to manipulate Fitbit securities. 

The SEC announced on July 11 that it had filed fraud charges against a second defendant, Mark Burns.

Burns allegedly purchased Fitbit call options a few minutes before he and Robert Murray, who was charged last year in a similar criminal case, had put a fake tender offer on the SEC's EDGAR system. The SEC alleged the pair made the offer in the name of a fake company called ABM Capital LTD. Then when the tender offer was publicly available, Burns sold his options and made a 350 percent profit. 

Burns is being charged with violating antifraud provisions of federal securities laws. 

"We allege that Burns and Murray tried to camouflage their identities and their affiliation with an EDGAR account by using disguised IP and e-mail addresses," SEC Cyber Unit Chief Robert Cohen said in a statement.  "Despite their sophisticated efforts to avoid detection, we stopped their alleged abuse of our filing system and charged them with being responsible for this manipulation." 

A settlement with Murray is pending court approval, according to the SEC. 

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