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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 9, 2022

Canadian Citizen Sentenced to 46 Months for Pump and Dump Securities Fraud Scheme

For Further Information, Contact:
Assistant U. S. Attorney Aaron P. Arnzen (619) 546-8384

SAN DIEGO – Andrew Hackett, from Toronto Canada, was sentenced to 46 months in prison today for participating in a pump and dump securities fraud scheme involving the stock of a small, publicly-traded cannabis/gaming company. 

In August 2021, the jury found Hackett guilty of securities fraud and conspiracy.  According to evidence presented at trial, Hackett and his co-conspirators manipulated the market for Arias Intel Corp stock. Hackett, who led the scheme, made consistent efforts to artificially inflate the price of Arias Intel’s stock by controlling the majority of the company’s free-trading shares through concealed offshore and other nominee accounts, coordinating the company’s press releases with the issuance of penny stock newsletters, and using high-pressure call rooms targeting innocent investors. Hackett and his co-conspirators also engaged in manipulative trading to create the appearance that Arias Intel stock traded at higher prices and with greater volume than was actually the case.

In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Todd W. Robinson noted that Hackett played a central role in organizing the conspirators’ pump and dump efforts.  The Court also scheduled a hearing on August 12, 2022 to determine the amount of restitution Hackett should pay to victims of his crime.

“The U.S. securities markets should operate on a level playing field,” said U.S. Attorney Randy S. Grossman.  “We will continue to hold those who would illegally manipulate the markets, and try to tip the scales unfairly in their favor, to account.”

“The FBI is committed to preserving the integrity of our financial markets and utilizing all available investigative techniques to root out those who attempt to manipulate it through fraudulent means,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy. “The FBI is proud to work with our partners at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. - Criminal Prosecution Assistance Group, to hold Mr. Hackett and his co-conspirators accountable for their criminal actions.”   

Three other defendants were charged alongside Hackett and who pleaded guilty - including Kuldeep Sidhu of Vancouver, British Columbia; Annetta Budhu of New York, New York; and Kevin Gillespie of Tampa, Florida - were previously sentenced.

DEFENDANTS                                            Case Number 18cr3072-TWR                                            

Andrew Hackett                                             Age:  33                                  Toronto, Canada       

Kuldeep Sidhu                                                Age:  51                                  British Columbia, Canada

Annetta Budhu                                               Age:  57                                  New York, NY

Kevin Gillespie                                               Age:  53                                  Tampa, Florida

 

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 371

Securities Fraud – Title 15 U.S.C., Sections 78j(b), 78ff; and 17 C.F.R., Section 240.10b-5

 

AGENCY

FBI (lead agency)

Securities and Exchange Commission

Criminal Prosecution Assistance Group, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority

 

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
CAS22-0609-Hackett
Updated June 10, 2022