Comscore, a media measurement and analytics firm headquartered in Reston Town Center, and its former CEO Serge Matta have been charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for defrauding investors and making false and misleading statements about the company’s performance.
In a Tuesday release, the SEC stated that Comscore and Mata agreed to pay $5.7 million in penalties. Matta will also reimburse Comscore $2.1 million.
“As the SEC orders find, Comscore and its former CEO manipulated the accounting for non-monetary and other transactions in an effort to chase revenue targets and deceive investors about the performance of Comscore’s business,” said Melissa R. Hodgman, Associate Director in the SEC’s Enforcement Division. “We will continue to hold issuers and executives accountable for such serious breaches of their fundamental duty to make accurate disclosures to the investing public while giving appropriate credit for a company’s prompt remedial acts and cooperation.”
The investigation revealed that the company — which measures audience engagement across different platforms — overstated revenue by roughly $50 million. Between February 2014 and February 2016, the company attempted to increase its reported revenue by exchanging data sets with another party by inflating revenue, according to the release.
The SEC also said Comscore and Matta create an “illusion of smooth and steady growth in Comscore’s business” by making false and misleading public disclosures about the company’s customer base and products. Specifically, the SEC found that Matta lied to the company’s internal accountant and external audit firm, allowing the company to artificially exceeds its analysis’ revenue target in seven consecutive quarters.
The last few months have been rocky for the media measurement firm. In April, the Wall Street Journal reported the company’s chief executive, Bryan Wiener, left the company after less than a year due to disagreements over the board’s execution of the company’s strategy.
Comscore is located in the heart of Reston Town Center at 11950 Democracy Drive.
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