Personal Finance

Make more, save more, spend smarter, and keep more of what you earn

Business News

Stock market news & analysis


Ameritrade restricts trading of BIEL and HTDS

By Nour Douchi on 12/14/2009 – 10:37 am PST24 Comments

Recently, I have been conducting some detailed analysis on Bioelectronics Corp ( OTC:BIEL) and HARD TO TREAT DISEASES (PINK:HTDS) . I went to a great length to unravel the potential of rising in price of BIEL and HTDS over the next few months. On BIEL, in particular, I found the stock to be of excellent potential and I decided to increase my holdings by double or even triple the size. However, I hit a wall. Ameritrade simply wouldn’t let me buy the stock. Both, BIEL and HTDS, in my opinion, dropped down, for no good or obvious reason, so such low prices that I deem to be extremely lucrative to open a position in or even increase one’s holdings. Ameritrade simply wouldn’t let me trade.

Initially, I thought that it was a problem with abnormal activity that requires the trader to simly call in and place the stock live with a broker over the phone. No, even that wouldn’t help. Ameritrade simply would NOT allow me to buy. “You could only SELL,” said the representative to me. When I asked for the reason, he said that he had no reason. He told me that Ameritrade simply placed the restriction on these two stocks and would not disclose the reason.

Of course, being an active trader, I have accounts with various popular brokers, such as eTrade and Scottrade for various research purposes but I do not actively use those accounts except for smaller amounts than that which I have with Ameritrade. So, I went ahead and gave it a test with eTrade, and as I expected, my buy orders were fulfilled. I called eTrade and enquired about any questionable activity on BIEL and HTDS’ part, but the representative told me that everything was fine, no problem.

 So, now, bereft of any reasons or explanations, I am left to wonder why Ameritrade, such a major player, one of the most known and largest brokerages, one the biggest stocks trading accounts holder in the United States, a broker that holds more than 6.3 million client accounts totaling more than $300 billion in client assets, is doing that. Why is Ameritrade placing such restrictions on these stocks without any explanation given to the traders.

Pages: 1 2


  • Prashant says:


    This was a pretty insightful article. Thanks so much for bringing it to light. I would like to add that the same restriction on BUY were put up by scottrade as well. The reason that was given to me was, ‘They’ have not been able to honour T+3 settlement…. With an ambiguity on what was meant by ‘they’, this I think is a complete hocus-pocus. The reason is that a company itself has nothing to do with the settlement dates, only the market does.

    To your conspiracy theory, it could very very possible be true. It is possible that a significant short position is being held with the aides of ameri and scott and the likes and that is what is being tried to be covered up !!

    Meanwhile, I do agree with the potential of the company and its products with my interaction in the calls with the company representatives et al. Please keep up all posted on the latest developments on TDAmeri and Scottrade.


  • johan says:

    Same happend with ASFX before

  • Ben says:

    Thank you so much for the above. Please graph both HTDS and BIEL for the last month and you will see the charts are almost identical. Also, go to the website and search for both HTDS and BIEL and you will see that the fails-to-deliver for both stocks has skyrocketed astronmically lately. This combined with the dramatic fall in pps with no negative news to drive such a drop is significant evidence in my oppion of stock manipulation and naked short selling.

    Will someone please please file a complain with the SEC or a class action lawsuit for the shareholders? I know I’ve had many restless nights and my account has sufferred dramatically all due to this resent, unsubstantiated activity.

  • Katherine Bynon says:

    If this “conspiracy” theory is indeed a consideration, who needs to be notified and why are the regulatory agencies not all over this? I was with scottrade and had a very similar issue with ASFX, after which time I switched to eTrade and have been completely satisfied since. I do own shares of HTDS and really wonder now if the price has been artificially kept down by these companies. Keep us informed, thx.

  • Krish says:

    IF there is a “sell” then there has to be a “buy” and this, could either be any account other than the Broker or the Broker themselves. The former one cannot be, as it will condradict there own statement. Hence the logical conclusion is the “buy” is done by Broker in TDAMERITRADE/SCOTTRADE. Now why would they do that?
    (1) They have a huge short position and to fulfill that, they have to go to market which will send the price up (as no one is ready sell it due to the fact that they have full faith in the company and the product). Hence this manipulation.
    (2) They are hoarding all the share as they are sure something positive is going to occur.

  • skipper says:

    Don’t worry about Scottrade or Ameritrade; I changed to Zecco and have been buying more biel; go biel

  • Biel says:

    you posted There were 21 such stocks being placed on the same, no-buy, restriction without any further explanation. eTrade and Scottrade reported no such restrictions. Could Ameritrade be trying to manipulate these stocks and many other stocks?

    Scottrade have over 350 stocks , all pinks, no buy/only sell plus around 100 no buy/no sell pink stocks .

  • Sean says:

    This restriction actually happened on Ameritrade few months ago as well and then they removed it for a month or so.

    Here is the response I got then.

    From: Message Center Client Services|Date: 08/31/09 12:54 PM

    Mr. Balas,

    Hello. I hope you are having a great day. I am sorry but we are unable to allow our clients to purchase this security at this time. That stock is currently limited to closing transactions only. We strongly believe it’s in the best interests of our clients, our firm, and our industry.

    In the ordinary course of the many systems and processes we implement to protect client assets we regularly monitor trading patterns to identify questionable or possible illegal activity. And as similarly seen in many other firms, certain securities, particularly in Pinks and Bulletin Boards, are more vulnerable than others to a manipulative type of activity.

    In some cases, we have found that brokerage accounts are illegally accessed and unauthorized trades are placed in specific securities from within those accounts.

    When a stock is purchased through TD Ameritrade both you and us take on risk for holding the security. While you may be willing to take on the risk of owning BIEL, TD Ameritrade is not willing to take on the risk as a firm.

    I hope this information is beneficial. If you have any questions or concerns please let me know and I will be happy to assist you.


    George Houston
    Apex Client Services, TD AMERITRADE
    Division of TD AMERITRADE, Inc.

    What ticks me off is that I cannot buy when I want and we do not get any warning.

    It seems logical that they would inform me that a stock that I actively hold and buy, they could send me a message indicating that they will not allow any future buy orders as of xx/xx/xxxx. But instead I have to wait ans try to buy only to be denied.

    Very Frustrated Share holder.

  • stockstorm says:

    I have an account in Tradeking in addition to TD and TK charges 1 cent per share for stocks under a dollar. So TK is making a killing on stocks under a $1. For example, to buy 10,000 shares of stock in TK it will cost someone $100. TDAmeritrade changes $10 flat for this very same trade. Could it be that they’re losing money on a trade when clients purchase a penny stock like HTDS? It’s frustrating that I can’t buy more through TDAmeritrade - but I don’t feel like going through trouble of opening another account and of course I’m not going to purchase through TK.

  • Iceman says:

    Is naked short selling illegal? I’m wondering if SEC or any regulatory bodies monitor this kind of behavior from the brokers. At the very least, I believe (IMO) that the brokers must legally explain to the clients the reason(s) of the restriction.

    HESG is one stock where this is happening and it’s been frustrating watching a stock not move in the direction it should.

    Humbly your fellow trader~

  • Mr. H. says:

    Hey. Check out Questrade. Save $$$. No restriction issues.

  • Nour Douchi says:

    Dear readers,

    please understand that this is not necessarily a conspiracy theory. I have heard various speculation from people as to why the restriction was put on HTDS and BIEL, both of which, by the way, just released some substantial news today. All the speculation were of the same nature: “Perhaps the transfer agent did not deliver all the required shares…,” or “may be there is a fraud going on,” etc…

    Well, it may very well be any of the above. The question that begs the answer is: Why the hell leave the investor in the dark like that. Such speculative thinking is exactly what that does. In fact, perhaps that’s exactly what is wanted. Again, if I had facts to back up the reason why Ameritrade isn’t allowing buy-orders on these stocks, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. We’d be having a different kind of discussion. Such vague restriction without a reason provided to the investor have a very powerful suggestive grip on the mind and it is bound to drive the price down and it did. The effect was huge. Many investors, including myself, missed the window of opportunity.

  • Sean says:

    I agree and have wrote back to Ameritrade. Their response is “while it is regrettable we cannot divulge any information.

    I think this really sucks a a shareholder.

    I truly believe that once BIEL becomes fully reporting that the ban will be lifted and drive up the price. The problem is you never know when if is lifted without trying to place a buy order everyday or keep watching the boards.

    Go luck to all shareholders and GO BIEL

  • Bryan says:

    I trade with Schwab and have no problems. I am however, going to contact the SEC tomorrow and report both companies. I suspect they are heavily involved in NSS.

  • Ellen says:

    I had a similar issue with Wells Fargo (formerly Wachovia, formerly A.G. Edwards). I’ve been following BIEL for several months and even purchased an ActiPatch for a chronic condition. I opened an account on Share Builder, specifically to purchase BIEL but they, too, will not allow a buy. I’ll check into eTrade. Thanks for the good info.

  • Tony says:

    Could it be that the Brokers have effectively declared War on HTDS - because HTDS has initiated legal proceedings against their questionable activities.

  • wise says:

    I was wondering if I can sue them. Because the same thing happen to me

  • Imad Khwaja says:

    I work for TD Ameritrade and the reason we have been given is as follows:

    Concerning BIEL:

    “Designed for companies with financial reporting problems, economic distress, or in bankruptcy to make the limited information they have publicly available. The Limited Information category also includes companies that may not be troubled, but are unwilling to meet Pink Sheets’ Guidelines for Providing Adequate Current Information. Companies in this category have limited financial information not older than six months available on the Pink Sheets News Service or have made a filing on the SEC’s EDGAR system in the previous six months.”

    Concerning HTDS:

    “Buyer Beware. There is a public interest concern associated with the company, which may include a spam campaign, questionable stock promotion, known investigation of fraudulent activity committed by the company or insiders, regulatory suspensions, or disruptive corporate actions. During the time it is labeled Caveat Emptor, any stock that is not in the Current Information category will also have its quotes blocked on”

    Any further questions or concern, please refer to

  • marty says:


  • Nour Douchi says:


    With all due respect, when I called Ameritrade, not one single explanation was provided. The information you provided was not disclosed by any representative I spoke to. Not only that, what you said virtually applies to so many companies that are not on a buy-restriction list.


  • Stephen says:

    TD Ameritrade ALSO restricted my buy orders for another stock, ASFX. They did this once in the recent past ( before the stock spiked ) and again, last week and continue to block BUY orders, but they will be more than happy to let you sell the stock. Seems extremely fishy and without reason. I looked into it a bit more and found the connection of TD Ameritrade and Knight Capital, and well .. do some research and maybe you will find out why TD blocks the sale of certain stocks with amazing potential …

  • rubitz says:

    one word: Choicetrade.

  • Youcef says:

    Scottrade does the same thing also. they put a restriction on this great stock without giving any meaningful reason … called them few times and no one can explain why the stock is restricted… all they say as a matter of the fact is that …the transaction are hard to process when dealing with BIEL… to me, it sounds nothing but a bunch of BS….


  • Prashant says:

    The idea is not just to be able to ’sitch’ and buy the stock with another broker. I am sure there are brokers that allow buying for BIEL.

    What is noteworthy is whatever makes BIEL ‘un buy-able’ for one broker, does not do so for others. Is it something that brokers can do at their discretion? Do these brokers have some information which investors like you and I don’t have? If yes, then this could be graded as inside information. This is completely manipulation and hurts the small investor.

    Switching and buying is a work around but not an root cause analysis of ‘why this is happening’.

    I have received an ‘I dont know’ from Scott as well as Ameri ! I was also told that they can change this ‘intra day’ hence allowing investors to buy only when they want during the day ! If they are allowing only sell, then what are they doing with the stock? keeping it, selling it to some other broker?

    A Fellow Investor

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.