The U.S. Securities and Exchange commission (SEC) says it has charged 16 defendants with participating in multiyear penny stock schemes that generated more than $194 million in illicit proceeds, Reuters reported. The defendants, which include 15 individuals and one company, are located in the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Monaco, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom, the SEC said in a statement. In three separate complaints filed in federal court in New York, the SEC alleged the defendants amassed shares of microcap stocks and then benefited from secretly funded campaigns designed to promote the publicly traded companies. The SEC enforcement director described them as "some of the most complex microcap stock fraud schemes ever charged by the SEC" in a statement. The defendants located their operations overseas and used encrypted messaging and a convoluted network of offshore accounts to evade detection, the SEC said. Read more.