Charges were filed against a Rancho Santa Fe man Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for fraudulently arranging the purchase of $2.5 million worth of shares in a penny stock company in an attempt to generate the false appearance of market interest and induce other investors to purchase the stock, according to a press release issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission. David F. Bahr, a self-employed consultant pleaded guilty to the charges and faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and $250,000 fine.
The SEC alleges that Bahr artificially increased the trading price and volume of Florida-based penny stock company iTrackr Systems when he conspired with a purported businessman with access to a network of corrupt brokers.
The purported businessman turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.
“Bahr tried to artificially inflate the price and volume of iTrackr shares to the detriment of retail investors who wouldn’t have known the real story behind the flurry of market activity,” said Michele Wein Layne, director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Office. “Working with criminal authorities, we were able to stop Bahr’s misconduct before he could seriously impact the markets and harm investors.”
On various days in December 2012, the undercover officer, using FBI funds, made an initial purchase of iTrackr stock, and Bahr purchased a total of 135,000 shares of iTrackr stock. Bahr was satisfied with the purchases, and wired a $3,000 kickback to the undercover officer’s bank account. Days later, federal agents searched his Rancho Santa Fe home and seized documents and electronic evidence.
The SEC also has issued an order to suspend trading in iTrackr securities.
The SEC’s investigation is continuing. Sentencing has been set for Sept. 3 and Bahr has been released on bond.