In case you haven’t read some of the background of the worldwide hacker group doing insider trading, the actual facts surrounding the worldwide group that gained access since 2010 to news wire services including Business Wire and MarketWire, gaining access to tens of thousands of early releases on major business deals, reads like a Hollywood script fit for George Clooney and his friends in Oceans Eleven.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, investigating the 5 year hack, says that the coordinated ring of traders profited in excess of $100 million and possibly a lot more. According to reports, several Ukraine based hackers penetrated the computers of the news services using stolen name and password information on to unscrupulous traders concerning major market affecting business news ahead of the actual news releases.
Those traders then took the information and bought stock in the companies involved.
This unusual and targeted use of cyber crime to steal information to use as insider trading could be a test run for larger efforts of this kind. The specter of this as a test run concerns the SEC and other authorities as a larger insider trading spree could set off world markets.
Most of the people charged criminally were the traders who gained directly from the insider trades. The SEC monitors traders using algorithms and software alert programs which can see patterns of trades before major business occurrences such as mergers and acquisitions.
As one example of a trade in this scheme, in January 2012 Caterpillar had submitted a press release to PR Newswire saying that it’s after tax profit had increased 26% over the prior year. Once they obtained this release, the hackers sent it to the traders who bought more than $8.3 million Caterpillar shares and options. This allowed them to book profits over one million dollars on these trades alone.
Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers