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Dumb Money: ASIC urges investors not to gamble it all on meme stocks


Australian regulators are raising awareness in response to the proliferation of 'pump and dump' schemes.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has today rolled out a consumer awareness campaign targeting hype investing and market manipulation — also known as "pump and dump" schemes.

Dubbed 'Don't Get Burnt by Hype', the initiative coincides with the Australian debut of 'Dumb Money,' a film that dives deep into the GameStop short squeeze saga of 2021.

"Pump and dump" schemes typically involve artificially inflating the price of a stock or other asset through false or misleading information to attract unsuspecting investors, only for the orchestrators of the scheme to then sell their holdings at an inflated price.

Thereby, leaving other investors with devalued assets.

If an investment sounds too good to be true — it probably is

In the release, ASIC CEO Warren Day highlights the importance of doing research, especially for novice investors, and the inherent dangers of high-risk speculative stocks.

"Before choosing to invest," Day advises, "people should familiarise themselves with the golden rules of investing and understand the associated risks. They shouldn't believe the hype – if an investment sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

First-time investors, in particular, should be cautious, Day warns. He highlights the inherent volatility and complexities of market trading, especially in speculative stocks, which are known for their high-risk, high-reward nature and uncertain prospects.

His advice is crystal clear: be prepared for the possibility of losing all your invested capital.

"We encourage investors to pause and reflect before investing. Don't get caught up in the hype. Take some time to research investment decisions, go to trusted sources for information, including," Day added.

Investors warned over social media "pump and dump" schemes

As finfluencers, meme stocks, and social trading gain prominence, ASIC has issued a warning to companies, brokers, and traders regarding their engagement on social media.

Recall the famous event that took place in January 2021 when retail investors harnessed the power of social media, most notably the Reddit group WallStreetBets, to execute a "short squeeze" on the NYSE-listed GameStop.

This surge in retail buying caused GameStop's share price to skyrocket by approximately 2,000% in a single month, only to recede significantly in early February.

Engaging in market manipulation is against the law in Australia, and those found guilty can face penalties of over $1 million in fines and imprisonment for up to 15 years.

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