Boiler Room (2000)
Frequently Asked Questions
It's based on an experience the screenwriter, Ben Young, had when he was recruited for a boiler room job a few years earlier.
This scene was born out of an experience Younger had five years ago, when he accompanied an acquaintance employed in a boiler room to just such a meeting. "He was my friend's younger brother, and he was driving a new sports car," says Younger. "This guy tells me, 'Look, you work here for a year, you make your million bucks, go to the Bahamas, and then you can write.' I was like, 'Um, I'll check my book, but I'm pretty sure his fits into the game plan.' " The firm, which was busted a few years later, offered him a job.
But instead of living the life, Younger decided to write about it. "I walked in and immediately realized, this is my movie. I mean, you see these kids and you know something is going on. I was expecting guys who went to Dartmouth, but they were all barely out of high school, sitting in a room playing Game Boys. I had already run a campaign at this point, but most of these kids were still working at the gas station," says Younger. "Now it's all over the news, but going back five years ago, day trading, the Internet, none of that existed."
According to the SEC: Dishonest brokers set up "boiler rooms" where a small army of high-pressure salespeople use banks of telephones to make cold calls to as many potential investors as possible. These strangers hound investors to buy "house stocks"stocks that the firm buys or sells as a market maker or has in its inventory. Boiler room operators typically sell thinly traded stocks of "microcap" companies.
In the movie, the brokers served three functions:
1) They created a market where they sold penny stocks owned by Michael's friends at inflated prices. 2) They sold stock in order to inflate the price prior to an initial public offering (IPO), which normally crashes days later. 3) They conned money from investors selling shares in non-existent companies.
The Classic "Pump and Dump" Scheme It's common to see messages posted on the Internet that urge readers to buy a stock quickly or to sell before the price goes down, or a telemarketer will call using the same sort of pitch. Often the promoters will claim to have "inside" information about an impending development or to use an "infallible" combination of economic and stock market data to pick stocks. In reality, they may be company insiders or paid promoters who stand to gain by selling their shares after the stock price is pumped up by the buying frenzy they create. Once these fraudsters sell their shares and stop hyping the stock, the price typically falls, and investors lose their money.
The Latest Variation of the "Pump and Dump" Scheme Some people are finding that they have received a "misdialed" call from a stranger, leaving a "hot" investment tip for a friend. The message is designed to sound as if the speaker didn't realize that he or she was leaving the hot tip on the wrong answering machine. If you get a message like this, it's not a wrong number at all. Instead, it is from someone who is being paid to leave these messages on a whole lot of answering machines. Check out "Wrong Numbers" and Stock Tips on Your Answering Machine for more information and to hear one of these scams.
The Off-Shore Scam Under a rule known as "Regulation S," companies do not have to register stock they sell outside the United States to foreign or "off-shore" investors. In the typical off-shore scam, an unscrupulous microcap company sells unregistered Reg S stock at a deep discount to fraudsters posing as foreign investors. These fraudsters then sell the stock to U.S. investors at inflated prices, pocketing huge profits that they share with the microcap company insiders. The flood of unregistered stock into the U.S. eventually causes the price to plummet, leaving unsuspecting U.S. investors with enormous losses.