UPDATE 1-U.S. SEC sues California trader for social media fraud scheme

(Adds details throughout)

WASHINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Monday it has charged a California-based trader for an alleged fraud scheme in which he spread false information about a defunct company on Twitter.

Andrew L. Fassari, or @OCMillionaire on Twitter, tweeted false statements about Arcis Resources Corporation during December 2020, shortly after purchasing over 41 million shares of the stock, the SEC said in a complaint that was unsealed on Monday.

Fassari’s attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The trader made approximately 120 tweets from Dec. 9-21 with false and misleading statements about the stock, causing its price to surge over 4,000%, the SEC said. Fassari later sold all his shares between Dec. 10 and 16, booking $929,000 in profits from the scheme, according to the allegations.

The SEC suspended trading in Arcis on March 2. Since February, the agency has suspended trading of more than a dozen securities following volatile trading this year in GameStop Corp and other darlings of social media that have seen a surge in interest from retail investors.

The SEC said it obtained an emergency asset freeze and other emergency relief against Fassari. (Reporting by Chris Prentice; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)