Social media influencers indicted for "feeding" excessive pump-and-dump stock scheme

Houston, Texas - A federal law enforcement commission has indicted several prominent financial social media influencers, each with followers in the hundreds of thousands, for using their influence to bet big on stock trades, illegally manipulating the market.

Several finance influencers have been indicted for a pump-and-dump stock scheme that cheated followers out of $100 million.
Several finance influencers have been indicted for a pump-and-dump stock scheme that cheated followers out of $100 million.  © Collage: Screenshot / Twitter / @MrZackMorris

According to a statement from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), eight individuals allegedly "used the social media platforms Twitter and Discord to manipulate exchange-traded stocks."

"The defendants used social media to amass a large following of novice investors and then took advantage of their followers by repeatedly feeding them a steady diet of misinformation, which resulted in fraudulent profits of approximately $100 million," explained Joseph Sansone, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit.

The defendants purchased stock, advised followers to do the same, and then "regularly sold their shares without ever having disclosed their plans to dump the securities while they were promoting them."

Those charged with securities fraud are listed in the unsealed indictment as Perry Matlock of Texas, Edward Constantin of Texas, Thomas Cooperman of California, Gary Deel of California, Mitchell Hennessey of New Jersey, Stefan Hrvatin of Florida, and John Rybarczyk of Texas.

The indictment includes transcripts of recordings of the influencers bragging about the scheme on Discord, with one proclaiming, "We’re robbing f**king idiots of their money."

An eighth man, Daniel Knight, is also being charged with aiding and abetting the scheme. Knight pushed the other men as financial experts on his podcast Pennies: Going in Raw, and regularly gained profit from the scheme.

Of those indicted, Perry Matlock's social media account has since been deleted, while the others profiles still exist with disclaimers to mitigate the legal risks of their claims.

Cover photo: Collage: Screenshot / Twitter / @MrZackMorris

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