Fake Avon takeover bid is 'a cautionary tale'

Avon headquarters in New York.
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Avon headquarters in New York.

Earlier on Thursday the latest buyout hoax hit Avon Products. The stock was halted three times after reports surfaced that the cosmetics company might be acquired by a "PTG Capital Partners" for more than $8 billion.

Avon shares surged on the news, at one point as much as 20 percent. Then everyone did some quick research and discovered that no such firm exists. It was a hoax.

Read More Avon: Have not received offer, no proof PTG exists

There is a history of shady takeover bids that have moved stocks in big ways only to be called out as hoaxes soon after. Notable examples include American Airlines and Emulex.

The idea is to drive up the stock price, sell it and turn a quick profit.

But the rate at which these events are happening could start to fall, said Tim Speiss, a personal wealth advisor at EisnerAmper.

"In the world of public companies, because of the amount of oversight and the speed at which the SEC reacts to filings, it makes these hoaxes not worthwhile," he said.

Read MoreHFT advocate: Get rid of the fake bid-makers

Speiss cautions investors against reacting to breaking news without due diligence, even if the information is true.

"Whether something is fraudulent or not, investors will go in but the issue is they don't know when to get out," he said. "What happened with Avon is a cautionary tale."

The Avon offer is eerily similar to a 2011 fake bid to buy American Airlines. A firm called Sterling Global Holdings made a $3 billion offer to buy the airline. Nothing further came of the bid and American Airlines later announced a merger with US Airways in 2013.

In 2000, Emulex shares plunged 59 percent in 16 minutes after a fake release said it was lowering reported results, its chief executive was stepping down and the SEC was probing the company. The sender later received a 44-month prison sentence.

Five years ago press release service Business Wire said it would no longer accept releases by email after it inadvertently distributed a hoax statement involving a small pharmaceutical company, days after its main rival was burned in a similar fashion.

—Reuters contributed to this report.