The Spam Diaries

News and musings about the fight against spam.
 by Edward Falk

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pump-n-dump spammers plead guilty in $20M scam

Via ComputerWorld: four stock-fraud spammers pled guilty to stock fraud last July and August, the Department of Justice has just announced.

Michael Saquella, a.k.a. Michael Paloma, Lawrence Kaplan, Henry Zemla, and Justin Medlin had convinced owners of fifteen small businesses to turn over large chunks of their stocks in turn for promises to take the companies public. They then engaged in standard pump-n-dump spam to boost the values of the stocks. All are now facing 5-10 years in the slammer. Three other defendants have already pled guilty and are facing 1-5 years.

Of interest is the fact that the owners of the spammed companies were themselves involved in the scam, although it is likely they didn't realize that something illegal was afoot. Last November, I wrote about a Guardian article which revealed that the spammed companies were often a knowing part of the scan, contrary to previous beliefs that they were innocent victims of the spammers' random choice of which stock to pump.

Today's story is further evidence that the opposite is true, and that pump-n-dump spammers often work with the companies they're spamming for. This, in turn, suggests that the SEC is on the right track with their policy of suspending such stocks.



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Blogger Spam Diaries said...

At the request of Kimberly Kates, I have removed the defamatory comments which were here before. In a nutshell, there were some unhappy parties on all sides of this story and the comments devolved into a he-said/she-said flamefest. Essentially, BSEG asys that B.J.Davis was ousted from BSEG for his involvement in the pump-n-dump scandal, and Davis claims that he was a victim, that he was the one who went to the SEC, and that Kates (the new current CEO) was one of the villians in this story.

Readers interested in the details can visit and

(Note; seems to be deleted at the moment, possibly as a result of legal action, and possibly permanently.)

12:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Penny Stocks Exposed is alive and well - and has the most amazing story on this Michael Paloma and what he's done. It's a wild ride! It also sounds like BSEG and Davis have worked out all issues, so it might be nice not to have to look at all of those "deleted comments" and read the actual story, instead. Thanks!

Arizona Recidivist Michael Paloma Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Multimillion Dollar Stock Scams Involving Prominent Organized Crime Figures

In an incredible case of art imitating life, after playing the part of a mobster who stole millions in the recently released, award-winning feature film “Forget About It”, Michael Paloma pleaded guilty to multimillion dollar stock fraud in a scheme involving members of the Bonanno crime family, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $7.8 million dollars in restitution.

March 24, 2008, Beverly Hills, CA - On March 14, 2008 federal Judge Leonie Brinkema in the U.S. Eastern District of Virginia sentenced Arizona recidivist Michael Paloma aka Michael Ralph Saquella aka Michael Blake (Case Number 1:07 CR305-001) to ten years imprisonment. Paloma was ordered to pay $7.8 million dollars dollars in restitution. According to the filings by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Paloma and his co-conspirators, including prominent mobsters, bilked as many as 25,000 penny stock investors of up to $50 million dollars.

This story has it all: an Elvis impersonator who claimed to be a Samurai competing in Jiu-Jitsu matches, attempted to avoid incarceration by claiming that he was “seeing dead people”, recorded his own Blues album, was involved with the mob, stole millions in elaborate stock schemes and ended up in prison. In a shocking twist to an already elaborate plot, Paloma was also an actor who played the part of a mobster that stole millions and ended up in prison.

One of the 15 companies victimized by Paloma, Beverly Hills Film Studios, produced an award-winning feature film “Forget About It”, starring Burt Reynolds, Raquel Welch, Charles Durning, Robert Loggia, Phyllis Diller and Richard Grieco. Michael Paloma insisted on co-starring in the film by fraudulently representing to the film executives that production funds were to come from Paloma’s “private investment group”. Unbeknownst to the company’s former President, BJ Davis, in reality the funds came from Paloma’s unlawful exploitation of the company’s own stock. Paloma subjected filmmakers and company management to threats and extortion by the members of the Bonanno crime family, with which Paloma is openly affiliated. Salvatore “Bill” Bonanno and his nephew, Anthony Tarantola, participated in Paloma’s penny stock schemes, brazenly harassed and threatened managers of victim companies in order to prevent them from cooperating with authorities. Former President of Beverly Hills Film Studios, BJ Davis, contacted the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and arranged meetings with both agencies - eventually discovering that Paloma was a recidivist, having been previously charged by the SEC for stock fraud.

The FBI and the SEC officially enlisted BJ’s help with their investigation, started to obtain information from managers of defrauded companies and wiretapped Paloma’s telephones, obtaining a wealth of information, since Paloma and his confederates were in the midst of another stock fraud scheme, 10 years in the making. The government’s filings state: “The defendant, Michael Saquella, defrauded over 24,000 investors and numerous companies of millions of dollars (over $20,000,000 in total for the conspiracy) largely so that he could finance his lavish lifestyle and his vanity film projects starring himself in a leading role. Caught on a “wire tap,” the defendant’s deceptive methods laid bare the pervasive nature of his greed and deceitful ways, as well as his utter contempt for the many victims he left in his wake.”

Outrageously, Department of Homeland Security Agents, formerly employed by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Jeffrey Deal and Herbert Kaufer, informed the mobsters of the fact that BJ Davis was providing information to authorities. Kaufer and Deal have also interfered with the investigation and prosecution of Paloma and his cohorts, as they were planning to utilize them in malicious prosecutions against BJ Davis and his wife Julia Davis (government whistleblower). Additional information can be obtained on the website for the Citizens Committee for Constitutional Protection,

Vanity and greed formed a combustible mixture throughout Paloma’s illustrious career. The government’s filings state that he “led traders, promoters, marketers, spammers, and others in the repeated fleecing of investors and small business owners.” Michael Paloma, Anthony Tarantola and Salvatore “Bill” Bonanno repeatedly demonstrated their open involvement with organized crime. The group announced the following titles for their imaginary production slate: “Mafia Files”, “Sal and His Pals”, “Track 'em and Whack 'em”, “I Don’t Wanna Work”.

In spite of the overwhelming evidence of Paloma's, Bonanno's and Tarantola's criminal actions that caused irreparable damage to numerous companies and their projects, federal Judge A. Howard Matz (Alvin Howard Matz) dismissed civil cases against them, even though these defendants were properly served and were in default by failing to respond to the lawsuits against them. Matz exclaimed that BJ Davis' alllegations of criminal actions by Paloma, Bonanno and Tarantola were "only his opinions". Judge Matz was infamously involved in the Hillarygate scandal and made false statements to the jury in that case, which is being referred to in the media as a “mother of all cover-ups.” Judge Matz' corruption is currently at issue in several pending complaints of judicial misconduct.

The government’s charging papers state that Paloma and his co-conspirators “realized in excess of $26,651,070 million between November 2003 and May 2006 in artificial trading profits as a result of the pumping and dumping the shares of the Issuer’s stock...”. Paloma pleaded guilty and admitted that his actions, as recounted in the government’s filings, “were in all respects intentional and deliberate, reflecting an intention to do something the law forbids.” On March 14, 2008 Judge Brinkema sentenced Michael Paloma to 10 years in federal prison. Pursuant to his plea deal, Paloma waived all rights to appeal his conviction or the sentence on any ground whatsoever.

After a long legal struggle with Paloma and his cohorts, which included numerous threats and extortion, Davis and current management of the company formerly known as Beverly Hills Film Studios, were able to bring the film back to its rightful owners, company shareholders. Paloma intended to fleece the investors and the company even further by attempting to gain control of "Forget About It." In yet another parallel to the film, he was unsuccessful in getting away with the loot. Pursuant to his guilty plea, Paloma agreed to “forfeit all interests in any asset that the defendant owns or over which the defendant exercises control, directly or indirectly, as well as any property that is traceable to, derived from, fungible with, or a substitute for a property that constitutes the proceeds of his offenses.”

The company and the film are now enjoying much success -- a sequel and television show are in the works, in addition to what is sure to be a revealing tell-all documentary.

For additional information, visit:

5:47 PM  

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