SEC Charges Robert Scott Murray and Trillium Capital with Fraudulent Scheme to Manipulate Getty Images Stock

Massachusetts resident liquidated his Getty Images stock holdings after sham offer to buy company drove up its stock price

Overview of the Allegations

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged Robert Scott Murray and Trillium Capital LLC with a fraudulent scheme aimed at manipulating the stock price of Getty Images Holdings Inc. Murray, based in Mashpee, Massachusetts, is a former CEO and CFO of several publicly traded companies.

Details of the Fraudulent Activities

Initial Press Releases

In early April 2023, Murray and Trillium Capital began issuing press releases after acquiring a significant position in Getty Images stock and options. These press releases called upon Getty Images to sell itself or to add Murray to its board of directors. However, these initial efforts did not significantly impact Getty Images’ stock price.

The “New Plan” for Stock Manipulation

Faced with the lack of impact from the initial press releases, Murray allegedly devised what he referred to as his “new plan” to artificially inflate the price of Getty Images stock. On April 24, 2023, Murray and Trillium Capital issued a press release announcing a supposed proposal to purchase all outstanding shares of Getty Images at $10 per share, nearly double the previous day’s closing price. This false announcement caused a temporary spike in Getty Images’ stock price.

False Buyout Offer

The SEC’s complaint highlights that the buyout offer was entirely fraudulent. Murray and Trillium Capital had no genuine intention of acquiring Getty Images nor did they make any real efforts to fund the proposed transaction. Despite pledging to hold their shares, Murray began liquidating his Getty Images stock immediately after the market opened on April 24, without waiting for a response from Getty.

Official Statements and Charges

Mark Cave, Associate Director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, stated, “Murray claimed that his buyout proposal could create real value for Getty shareholders. But we allege that, in the end, Murray leveraged his professional credentials to orchestrate an old-fashioned pump-and-dump scheme, disguised as shareholder activism.”

The SEC’s complaint charges Murray and Trillium Capital with violating the antifraud provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. As part of the resolution, Murray and Trillium agreed to a judgment that permanently enjoins them from future violations of these provisions of federal securities laws, prohibits them from engaging in certain securities-related conduct, and bars Murray from serving as an officer or director of a public company.

Criminal Charges Also Pending

The court will determine whether Murray and Trillium will be required to pay disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties, and if so, the amounts to be paid. Additionally, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts has announced parallel criminal charges against Murray.

SEC Press Release


The attorneys at Sallah Astarita & Cox, LLC are former SEC Staff Attorneys and brokerage firm counsel, with over 100 years of collective experience. If you have received a subpoena from the SEC, a document request from FINRA, or have a dispute with a brokerage firm, call 212-509-6544 for a free consultation. The firm represents investors and financial professionals nationwide.

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Mark Astarita is a nationally recognized securities attorney, who represents investors, financial professionals and firms in securities litigation, arbitration and regulatory matters, including SEC and FINRA investigations and enforcement proceedings.

He is a partner in the national securities law firm Sallah Astarita & Cox, LLC, and the founder of The Securities Law Home Page -, which was one of the first legal topic sites on the Internet. It went online in 1995 and is updated daily with news, commentary and securities law related links.

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