Mumbai: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has taken action against two YouTube channels for allegedly manipulating stock prices by providing misleading information. Manish Mishra and Manjiri Tiwari’s channels, The Advisor and Moneywise, have also been accused of making extraordinary profits by broadcasting false news and using influencers and celebrities to recommend these stocks.
Among those fined were Bollywood actor Arshad Warsi and his wife Maria Goretti Warsi, who received $35,650 and $45,480 respectively, for their services. SEBI has barred more than 50 entities for fraudulently promoting Sharpline Broadcast and Sadhna Broadcast shares via the YouTube channels The Advisor and Moneywise.
According to the regulator, the entire nexus made up to $5.07 million in illegal profits. “…misleading YouTube videos with false content were uploaded to entice investors, backed by a paid marketing campaign worth crores of rupees for additional reach,”. Following the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in the number of social media influencers and the use of influencer marketing tactics in India. The move by SEBI focuses attention on their role in stock markets, where they make recommendations and provide financial management advice without professional expertise.
Simply put, the now-banned 50-odd entities artificially inflate the share prices of Sharpline and Sadhna. They accomplished this by recruiting lay investors with the help of influencers and celebrities on The Advisor and Moneywise. When Sharpline and Sadhna’s prices rose sufficiently, these entities would profitably unload their own holdings.
“These channels had thousands of subscribers, and the deceptive videos received millions of views due to paid advertising campaigns. As a result, the public could no longer view the deceptive YouTube videos,” the SEBI said.
Following the release of promotional videos, Sharpline and Sadhna share prices and trading volumes increased, prompting the SEBI investigation. According to reports, the number of scrips investors has increased from 857 to 55,343. Between January and September 2022, SEBI tracked a $572,000 payment from Mishra’s bank account to Google AdSense, which was used to promote the videos.