Dozens of trading groups are manipulating the price of cryptocurrencies on some of the largest online exchanges, generating at least $825 million in trading activity over the past six months?and hundreds of millions in losses for those caught on the wrong side, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.
In a review of trading data and online communications among traders between January and the end of July, the Journal identified 175 ?pump and dump? schemes involving 121 different digital coins, which show a sudden rise in price and an equally sudden fall minutes later.
A pump and dump is one of the oldest types of market fraud: Traders talk up the price of an asset before dumping it for a profit and leaving fooled investors with shrunken shares. The Securities and Exchange Commission regularly brings civil cases alleging pump and dumps using publicly traded stocks. Manipulations of cryptocurrencies are no different, but regulators have yet to bring a case in the more opaque market for them. The SEC declined to comment.