Bitcoin Stock Scam Targets WhatsApp Users

A penny stock tied to a little-known bitcoin company and a slew of WhatsApp spam messages were at the heart of a pump-and-dump scheme last week.

AccessTimeIconAug 26, 2015 at 9:06 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 11:50 a.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global hub for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

A penny stock tied to a little-known bitcoin company and a slew of WhatsApp spam messages were at the heart of a pump-and-dump scheme last week.

As reported by The Awl, WhatsApp users received messages on 21st August stating that traders from major Wall Street investment banks including JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs were about to buy stock in Avra, Inc (OTCQB: AVRN), a company that, according to its website, sells bitcoin ATMs and point-of-sale solutions.

— Noah McCormack (@noahmccormack) August 21, 2015

The messages indicated that the price would see major gains, and in one instance, claimed that a buyout would happen soon.

The stock price quickly shot to a high of $1.26 before falling significantly, though it’s unclear exactly how many WhatsApp users fell for the scam.

— Patrick Delaney (@pxdelaney) August 21, 2015

The messages mostly drew complaints from users, who cried foul that they were receiving any spam at all. At least one user on Reddit indicated that they had reported the incident to the SEC.

Heavy trading volume for Avra’s stock continued days after the spike, according to data from Google Finance.


The event raised questions about the company’s financial prospects based on public data filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

For example, noted that, according to the company’s SEC 10-Q filing for the period ending 30th June, Avra has reported no revenue since it was founded in December 2010. The company reported roughly $25,000 in cash on hand versus about $245,000 in liabilities.

At press time, Avra’s stock is trading at approximately $0.23.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Penny stock image via Shutterstock


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.