Two Israelis and one American have been charged in conjunction with a massive e-mail spam and “pump and dump” scheme involving penny stocks that may have netted the trio and their accomplices as much as $2.8 million in illicit proceeds. Following the announcement of the charges, at least two of the men were also quickly linked to a notorious rogue online-casino operation incorporated in the Netherlands Antilles. The rogue casino group’s alleged operations include similar spamming operations, non-payment of winners, and even a massive hacking campaign targeting WordPress blogs listed on Google, which were being hijacked to promote the group’s various operations.
Named in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) press release on Tuesday announcing the charges were Israeli nationals Zvi Orenstein and Gery Shalon, and American citizen Joshua Samuel Aaron. Orenstein (also known as Aviv Stein and John Avery) and Shalon (also known as Phillipe Mousset and Christopher Engeham) were immediately detained by Israeli authorities, and will likely face extradition proceedings as initiated by the United States. Aaron (also known as Mike Shields), age 31, was also living in Israel, but is currently believed to be in Russia and is temporarily out of the extradition reach of American authorities.
Yesterday, a Jerusalem court ordered Orenstein, 40, and Shalon, 31, held without bail, citing flight risk, pending the result of the extradition proceedings. A search of Shalon’s residence also turned up two million shekels (about USD $520,000).