Texas Attorney General, SEC File Market Manipulation and Stock Fraud Charges Against Two Texas Residents

Illegal “botnets”used to cheat investors out of more than $4.6 million

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Special Investigations Unit charged two Texas residents with devising an illegal high-tech scheme to defraud investors out of more than $4.6 million. Both suspects, who were indicted July 3 by a Harris County grand jury, are the subjects of an ongoing investigation by several states and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In addition to the state’s charges, the suspects face securities fraud charges, which were filed today by the SEC.

Darrel Uselton, 40, of Katy, and his uncle, Jack Uselton, 69, of Houston, face organized criminal activity and money laundering charges. According to state and federal investigators, the Useltons reaped millions in illegal profits by promoting shares from at least 13 penny stock companies. The suspects then secretly sold those stocks into an artificially active market they created with manipulative trading schemes, spam e-mail campaigns, direct mailers, and Internet-based promotional activities.

The case is being prosecuted by the Texas Attorney General’s Office (OAG) and the Office of Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal with investigative assistance from the New York Attorney General’s Office. OAG investigators have seized more than $4.2 million from bank accounts associated with the defendants. Darrel Uselton was arrested by OAG investigators and is currently being held in Harris County Jail in lieu of $8 million bond. An arrest warrant has been issued for Jack Uselton.