In May, Avon Products received an offer to be acquired for $US18.75 per share.
It was a hoax.
Then in June, the SEC filed a lawsuit against a number of firms and 37-year-old Nedko Nedev of Sofia, Bulgaria.
And now it looks like Nedev might not be real.
In a report this weekend, The Wall Street Journal chronicles the problems authorities have had, now and in the past, tracking down Nedev, who lists an address in Sofia, Bulgaria.
A neighbour of the address listed for Nedev told the Journal, “This guy is a phantom … I have been living here for three years, and I’ve repeatedly been hassled by police and bailiffs who come periodically to search for him for unpaid bills. People were here a month ago to look for him for an unpaid mobile phone bill. I’m sick of this guy, if he is even real.”
On May 14, shares of Avon Products gained nearly 20% after a firm called PTG Partners purportedly made an offer to buy the company for $US18.75 per share. Avon told Business Insider at the time that Avon hadn’t heard from PTG outside of its SEC filing and wasn’t sure the entity existed.
In its lawsuit against Nedev and PTG, the SEC also charged that Nedev had been behind the manipulation of Tower Group and Rocky Mountain Chocolate in 2014 and 2012, respectively. The complaint said Nedev made just $US5,000 off his fake bid for Avon.
As the Journal outlines in its report, authorities face a number of issues in trying to track down Nedev. The SEC has traced an IP address for the fake Avon filing to Bulgaria, but local police told the Journal they have seen cases where signals were bounced around the world and only appeared to come from Bulgaria.
Additionally, brokers in Bulgaria told the Journal that they have heard of Nedko Nedev, but there are conflicting reports about his whereabouts and appearance.
Nedko Nedev is also a popular name in Bulgaria.