The dishonest and criminal world of pump-and-dump schemes is a subject of fascination for many, says Steve Burns of New Trader U.

As demonstrated by the popularity of the film “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which recounts the story of Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker who amassed a fortune of ill-gotten gains through this fraudulent practice after starting his brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont. Belfort’s dubious tactics provoked much controversy and media scrutiny, and the film piqued the interest of audiences around the globe. Primarily for the movie’s entertainment value and lifestyle, it showed Belfort living at the expense of the customers that invested with his firm.

In this article, we will delve into the intricate workings of the pump-and-dump scheme and explore the valuable lessons that can be learned from Belfort’s illegal and unethical activities. By comprehending the inner workings of this deceitful scheme, investors can take better measures to protect themselves against similar schemes.

What is a Pump-and-Dump Scheme?

A pump-and-dump scheme is a highly illegal and unethical practice where fraudsters artificially increase the value of a stock and then sell it at an inflated price, making a quick profit at the expense of innocent investors. The perpetrators of the scheme first buy shares of a minor, obscure company that are cheap and easy to acquire. They then use various fraudulent methods to promote the stock, creating buzz and increasing demand. They may use false or misleading statements, spam emails, social media bots, Discord servers, Reddit, or other deceptive tactics to create the illusion that the stock is poised to skyrocket in value. As more and more people invest in the stock, its price increases, creating a buying frenzy.

Once the stock price has peaked, the fraudsters sell their shares, cashing in on the inflated price. This sudden dumping of shares floods the market with the stock, causing its price to plummet. The unsuspecting investors who bought the stock at a high price are left holding shares worth much less than what they paid. The investors lose their money, while the fraudsters make huge profits. Pump-and-dump schemes are a serious crime that can have devastating consequences for investors and the integrity of financial markets.

How Did Jordan Belfort Use The Pump-and-Dump Scheme?

Jordan Belfort established his career as a stockbroker in the 1980s when the stockbrokers were still an exclusive club. Back then, buying and selling stocks required investors to call a real person who would explain what to buy and sell. This process was time-consuming and expensive, as investors had to pay significant commissions to the brokers. Jordan saw an opportunity in this inefficiency and founded his brokerage firm, Stratton Oakmont.

At Stratton Oakmont, Jordan, and his brokers aggressively pitched stocks to unsophisticated investors. They would first buy up shares of a minor, unknown company and then instruct their brokers to sell the stock to their contacts, using high-pressure sales tactics. This would create a buying frenzy, driving up the stock price and making it easier to sell to new investors. Once the stock price had reached a certain level, Jordan would instruct his “rat holes” (trusted connections) first to buy up the stock before the pump and then start selling near the peak price to create the dump, making it difficult for their regular clients to sell off the stock in time to profit.

Jordan also took his scheme to new heights by taking companies public. An initial public offering (IPO) is when a company is first listed on a public exchange. Jordan would instruct his rat holes to buy up the stock in a company he was about to take public. The company would then debut on the public market, and Jordan would instruct his army of brokers to sell the IPO stock to all of their contacts. This would increase the stock’s price, making it attractive to other investors. The rat holes could then use this buying mania to silently sell their stocks, netting them a very healthy profit. His firm took Steve Madden public utilizing this strategy.

Lessons Learned From The Wolf of Wall Street Scam

The tale of Jordan Belfort and Stratton Oakmont serves as a warning about the perils of unchecked greed and the importance of regulatory oversight. The pump-and-dump scheme that Belfort used to accumulate his wealth is illegal and unethical, preying on unsophisticated investors who are often left holding worthless shares. Although the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken steps to crack down on these schemes, they persist, particularly in the crypto market.

Investors must be cautious of any investment opportunity that appears too good to be true. They should conduct their due diligence, research the company and its management team, and seek advice from a trusted financial advisor. They should also be wary of high-pressure sales tactics, promises of quick profits, and unsolicited investment advice.


The story of Jordan Belfort and the pump-and-dump scheme he used to become a millionaire serves as a cautionary tale that underscores the dangers of unbridled and unethical ambition and the need for strong regulatory supervision in the financial sector. Belfort’s relentless pursuit of wealth and willingness to engage in illegal and unethical practices harmed countless investors, many of whom were unaware and lacked the knowledge and resources to protect themselves. This fraudulent behavior undermines public trust in the financial system and can result in serious economic consequences. The case of Belfort and Stratton Oakmont highlights that the financial industry needs effective regulations and oversight to ensure that it operates fairly, transparently, and sustainably and that the interests of investors are safeguarded. By learning from this story and advocating for more robust safeguards, they can help prevent similar schemes from harming innocent people.

Learn more about Steve Burns at