paint the tape
v. To increase the price of the stock by using unscrupulous methods, such as breaking up a large stock purchase into multiple small purchases to give the illusion of a buying frenzy.
Other Forms
Big blocks of merchandise define the market. They tell you whether it is truly strong enough, because little trades can lie — people can 'paint' the tape — but big prints like this never do.
—James B. Cramer, “A Piece of Business to Watch,”, June 06, 2000
'Painting the tape' was when stock fraudsters at the end of the trading day would buy 100 shares at a higher price than was traded during the day. Their tiny 'uptick' price was published in newspapers and by the exchange as the 'closing' price along with high and low prices. Every day these crooks would paint the tape a nudge higher and higher to entice innocent investors. Eventually the price collapsed.
—Diane Francis, “ Market soap opera: As the World Churns,” National Post (Canada), February 08, 2000
1976 (earliest)
On Mar. 31 the American Stock Exchange said it had "identified a number of instances" of trades reported on the ticker tape that did not take place. Wall Streeters call this "painting the tape." But no matter what it is called and how it is explained, color it phony and label it illegal.
—“Painting The Tape,” Forbes, June 01, 1976