The offenses are of the kind that veteran Net hounds know all too well: Spams, message board postings, newsletters and web sites touting surefire "microcap" stocks -- and lying about whether the solicitations were from people with vested interests. That sort of hanky-panky has always been the SEC's raison d' Ítre -- but today's big sting is proof of how much the Internet version scares the commission. "One of the big problems with the Internet investing has always been a lack of accountability -- anyone can say whatever they want without their motives being examined," says TIME Wall Street columnist Daniel Kadlec. "Anyone who listens, and acts on it, is taking a big chance." It's comforting that the SEC is on the case -- but when it comes to the lightning-quick, ephemeral Web, caveat emptor is still your best bet.
Eleven on the SEC's Hit List: