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Crime The Almighty Buck United Kingdom

US Charges English Twins Over $1.2m 'Stock Robot' Fraud 114

peetm writes "Twin brothers from England face U.S. civil charges for allegedly defrauding investors out of $1.2m (£745,000) through a bogus stock-picking robot. The twins, Alexander and Thomas Hunter, were just 16 years old when they devised the scam — which fooled around 75,000 people, according to U.S. officials."
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US Charges English Twins Over $1.2m 'Stock Robot' Fraud

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 22, 2012 @05:32AM (#39761213)

    Needed to figure out what exactly was bogus about this since there shouldn't be anything too wrong about someone recommending stocks that fail even with a "robot".

    The Securities and Exchange Commission said the stocks "picked" were actually firms that paid the twins hefty fees

    I assume it's because there's a difference between just being bad stocks and being bribed into recommending stocks.

  • Mechanical Turk (Score:5, Insightful)

    by srussia ( 884021 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @05:33AM (#39761215)
    21st century version of the Mechanical Turk []
  • by TFAFalcon ( 1839122 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @05:38AM (#39761227)

    Didn't some banks recommend people buy stocks and derivatives that they themselves were trying to get rid of? I suppose they're going to be charged with fraud too?

  • by Stu101 ( 1031686 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @05:47AM (#39761253) Homepage

    They have already been tried in the UK court and lost most of what the gained. It is a bid unfair in my mind.

    Do you think it would be allowed, ie tried twice, once by the US government and then by the UK government if they where in the US. They would probabily get a job offer in the US.

    I can't wait for the moment they get a similar issue with a Chinese coder........

  • Good one. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrjb ( 547783 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @05:57AM (#39761271)
    £745,000. 75000 people. Fraud or not, they've scammed these people for on average just under £9.95 a person. Don't know about you, but if I found out I'd been scammed by two teenagers to the tune of a tenner for being greedy and gullible, I'd consider that a very cheap lesson and I might even have a laugh over it. Well done, Hunter twins, for making a million dollars out of greedy people. And another lesson learned: If you've got money, people get envious.

    Now what I always find interesting is when the numbers don't work. According to TFA, "investors paid $47 for newsletters listing Marl's stock picks and $97 for a home version of the software". Yet on average, the investors are down just a tenner? I don't mean to nitpick, but to me that sounds like the bloody thing actually worked. Oh, wait, it was unregulated software. What would you expect from two 16-year-olds?

    I'm a bit worried about the precedent this is setting though. If I choose to buy a newspaper with a horoscope in there, or if I buy horoscope software and the predictions don't come true, should I sue?
  • SEC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @06:08AM (#39761307) Homepage Journal

    So somebody gives a shit about 2, 2 bit crooks in UK. Good for them.

    How about SEC not doing their job [] even though they've been notified multiple times about a pump and dump operation that is ran by the very definition of a pumper and dumper?

    Oh, I forgot, that's the same SEC that was notified about Madoff years before his pyramid blew up. Same SEC that was absolutely useless during the Internet and the housing bubbles and now during this bond and dollar bubble. Well, I suppose later they'll come out and say: nobody could have seen it coming.

  • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @06:23AM (#39761333) Journal
    Double jeopardy is about not being punished for the same crime twice. The real question is: should what they did be regarded as two separate crimes in two countries? I think one should think long and hard before answering this in the affirmative. Consider: you grab a movie from the Pirate bay, and seed parts of it to torrent peers in 15 other countries. Is it fair to be convicted in each country separately?
  • Re:SEC (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bryan1945 ( 301828 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @06:29AM (#39761351) Journal

    SEC only goes after someone when one of their own gets shafted. Us little pissants are not worthy of their attention.

  • That's unfair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by obarthelemy ( 160321 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @06:48AM (#39761393)

    There was a chinese wall ! One twin was handling commission for firms, the other one recommendations to clients.

    Oh wait, that's only good if you're Goldman Sachs.

  • by Zemran ( 3101 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @08:02AM (#39761625) Homepage Journal

    Wrong, the crime was committed in the UK. They were in the UK when they committed it therefore that is where it was committed. Just because your government is prone to logical fallacies does not mean that you all have to act stupid.

  • Re:Good one. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 22, 2012 @08:05AM (#39761633)

    I do think there's a difference. Stealing £10 from 75,000 people causes 75,000 people skip the cinema this week. Maybe not even that. Stealing £750,000 from one person might cost that person his or her home and retirement. A person harmed in this way might not ever be able to recover. People have thrown themselves in front of trains for less. I suspect fewer have done so over 10 quid. There's a "lives destroyed" weight multiplier that must be factored in. Sort of ((number of people) x (amount lost average) x (number who can't recover)). Not exactly, of course. Many missing factors. If only it were that simple!

    But regardless, still a crime either way.

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984