In our research about stock manipulation, we came across the following really amusing (albeit sad) exchange between one guy and his broker. His aim was to get his shares delivered physically , in the form of certificates, in order to prove a large naked short position. This is what happened.
Below are extremely truncated excerpts from a very interesting conversation posted on a discussion board. An investor decided to experiment by trying to buy a shorted stock from 2 different sources. Here’s what happened. Read the whole exchange for many more details.
Dennis Smith Posted: "I thought it might be interesting to prove a short position first hand by purchasing shares in (GLKC) a company that reportedly already had over 100% of it’s shares sold (and "legally" documented)…. Just after settlement date (three days later), I requested certificates from both brokers. The cert ordered through Ameritrade appeared in three weeks….
Getting the Wells Fargo cert however has become predictably (and almost amusingly) problematic….":
From Wells Fargo : …We are researching your request and will contact you directly as soon as we have completed our investigation….
From Dennis Smith : …It’s been five days. What kind of "investigation" are you doing?
From Wells Fargo : … We were awaiting full delivery of the shares from the transfer agent. Unfortunately, due to some unusual circumstances, this took longer than we expected.
From Dennis Smith : What exactly are the "unusual circumstances"?
From Wells Fargo : …The broker/dealer from whom your shares were purchased is short 5,000,000 shares versus the street. A broker/dealer is allowed to sell shares which they do not own, which they will buy at a later date and deliver.
From Dennis Smith : Exactly how later is "later"? Is not a 5,000,000 short position cause for alarm? Who is the subject "broker/dealer" from whom you acquired my "shares" and what is that dealer telling you about his apparent failure to deliver? As I understand it, a shareholder is entitled to physical certificates in every event, assuming the buy was legitimate.
From Wells Fargo : …The other broker/dealer who is short shares of your security is E*Trade. Though this type of activity makes it difficult to issue physical certificates, it is legal and within regulations. There is no definite date by which E*Trade would have to purchase the shares…. According to our trading desk, E*Trade was the only broker/dealer offering shares of GLKC yesterday. This has been the case since you originally requested your certificate.
From Dennis Smith : You stated there is no definite date by which E-Trade has to purchase the "short" shares that they sold you and that in turn you sold me. How can this be "legal"? What is to prevent them from continuing to sell what they don’t own while subsequently refusing to buy the shares back if there are no time constraints?…
My bottom line is this. I demand the physical GLKC certificate(s) representing the shares I purchased.
From Wells Fargo : …We have received your request for physical certificates. As soon as we are able to order a physical certificate for you, we will do so.
With many thanks to Wall-Street.com for the story