Eight social media influencers who allegedly used their status to manipulate stock prices have been charged in a $100m (£81m) fraud scheme.
Together, the youngsters have 1.5 million followers on Twitter and use it along with messaging platform Discord to promote themselves as successful traders and encourage their followers to invest in selected stocks.
They regularly dumped the shares when their prices rose, but never disclosed their plans, according to the SEC’s allegations.
This is a process commonly referred to as “pump and dump”.
Since at least January 2020, the group’s loyal followers have “continuously received misinformation,” which “resulted in approximately $100 million in fraudulent profits,” authorities said.
While their fans were being scammed, the defendants displayed their “lavish lifestyles” online, including posing for pictures with luxury cars, authorities said.
Seven of them were charged with securities fraud and their Twitter accounts were exposed, along with their names and states of residence:
• Perry Matlock (@PJ_Matlock) of Texas
• Edward Constantine of Texas (@MrZackMorris)
• Thomas Cooperman (@ohheytommy) of California
• Gary Deel in California (@notoriousalerts)
• Mitchell Hennessey (@Hugh_Henne) of NJ
• Stefan Hrvatin of Florida (@LadeBackk)
• John Rybarczyk of Texas (@Ultra_Calls)
The men’s tweets regularly encourage members of the Goblin Gang to buy shares, invite followers to connect with them to “get those levels,” and send their daily “game plans” directly to them.
Most of the accounts are still online and were tweeting as recently as three or four days ago.
An eighth individual, Daniel Knight (@DipDeity) of Texas, is accused of aiding and abetting the alleged scheme, including through a podcast he co-hosted and used to promote numerous others as expert traders.
He is also said to have traded with them and often profited from them.
Each could face up to 25 years in prison for conspiracy to commit securities fraud and each count of securities fraud.
Constantine also faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of engaging in illicit currency transactions.
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It comes as the U.S. cracks down on high-profile individuals promoting financial products, including cryptocurrencies.
last month, An Instagram star is jailed in California Participated in a multi-million dollar international scam targeting a Premier League club for over 11 years.
a few weeks ago, Kim Kardashian fined and banned from promoting cryptocurrencies for three years Settle federal charges over Instagram posts about EthereumMax assets.