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Feds indict “The Bull” for allegedly selling insider stock info on the dark web

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Federal prosecutors and attorneys charged a man with securities fraud on Friday for allegedly selling insider stock information on the dark website AlphaBay. The accused also sold information in several criminal markets and through an encrypted messaging platform.

In an indictment filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York, Justice Department prosecutors alleged that Apostolos Trovias, 30, of Athens, Greece, created an account on AlphaBay in 2016 and used it to advertise and sell stock tips until dark. the online criminal market was closed the following year. Prosecutors said that using the pseudonym “The Bull”, Trovias sold the tips both individually and as weekly or monthly subscriptions, using Bitcoin to receive payments.

Behind the dark veil of the web

“Behind the veil of the Dark Web, using encrypted messaging apps and email, Trovias created a business model in which he sold – for profit – proprietary information from other companies, advice on operations stock market, pre-release earnings and other inside information, as we claim, “FBI Deputy Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said in the press release on Friday. “The FBI also operates within the Dark Web, and as Trovias learned today, we don’t stop enforcing the law just because you are committing federal crimes behind a router with your keyboard.”

Indicted Trovias

According to the Department of Justice and the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, which also indicted Trovias in a civil complaint on Friday, the Greek national hijacked the earnings reports of various companies, as well as other communications from company, before their publication.

According to a criminal complaint filed in February, indict  Trovias shares are accused of selling inside information about MobileIron, Inc., PTC Therapeutics, Inc., Illumina, Inc. and Analogic Corporation. None of these companies are accused of wrongdoing. Investigators identified Trovias by sending him payments and using blockchain analysis to monitor the digital wallets that received them. Prosecutors claimed that one of the wallets was linked to a payment card used by indicting Trovias.

In the seven months Trovias was on AlphaBay, he reportedly made at least 45 transactions, including selling “dozens” of individual tips and about a half-dozen weekly and monthly packages. Prices would have ranged from around $ 29.95 per tip to $ 329.95 for a monthly subscription. He is also accused of selling at least one preliminary earnings report of a publicly traded company for around $ 5,000.

Once AlphaBay closed, Trovias reportedly moved to another crime forum called Dream Market. Prosecutors said that from 2017 to last year, Trovias also used encrypted messaging and email services to sell inside information directly to buyers. Last year, he reportedly took steps to create a website to facilitate insider tip sales. It planned to charge membership fees and commissions to individuals, prosecutors said. SEC attorneys also alleged that he used another dark website called Nightmare Market.

“During his discussions with FBI agents, Trovias suggested he would recruit insiders to auction material, non-public information on the site, acting as a receiver for sellers and buyers.” , wrote the SEC lawyers. “In August 2020, Trovias suggested an in-person meeting with the two undercover FBI agents to further discuss the creation of the Tor website.”

According to a criminal complaint filed in February, Trovias shares are accused of selling inside information about MobileIron, Inc., PTC Therapeutics, Inc., Illumina, Inc. and Analogic Corporation. None of these companies are accused of wrongdoing. Investigators identified Trovias by sending him payments and using blockchain analysis to monitor the digital wallets that received them. Prosecutors claimed that one of the wallets was linked to a payment card used by Trovias.

The defendant was charged with one count of securities fraud and one count of money laundering. The count of securities fraud carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and the count of money laundering carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. Attempts to reach Trovias for comment were not immediately successful.

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