In an ongoing lawsuit by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against a Texas man it has accused of defrauding investors in a Ponzi scheme involving the popular "virtual currency" Bitcoin, Federal Magistrate Judge Amos Mazzant of the Eastern District of Texas re-affirmed in August his earlier denial of the defendants' motion to dismiss. In his ruling, Judgef Mazzant held that Bitcoin is "money" and that contracts involving the investment of Bitcoin rather than traditional currency are nonetheless subject to federal securities law. In an ironic twist, the ruling lends credibility to Bitcoin as a currency while simultaneously allowing the government to proceed in a case highlighting Bitcoin's risks and to potentially subject it to closer regulation-certainly an uncomfortable situation for a currency whose entire point is to serve as an alternative to government-sponsored legal tender.
Obligatory pun aside, this post deals with a serious issue for many retail investors-scam artists who use hot news items to cheat you out of your money. On August 20, 2013, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) published an Investor Alert warning of potential scams involving marijuana-related stocks. In today's economic environment, and particularly after so many Americans saw their retirement savings evaporate in 2008, an investment tip promising big returns in a hot new business can be very tempting.
According to Reuters, Merck & Co have agreed to pay $688 million to settle two U.S. class-action lawsuits brought by shareholders who say they lost money because the company concealed the poor results of a clinical trial of the anti-cholesterol drug Vytorin.