The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged every particular for fascinating insider trading on the darknet. Greece-based Apostolos Trovias, known as the “The Bull” constantly used encrypted messaging services and the dark web for approaching, exchanging, and selling inside data.
However, unlike drug dealers targeted in previous actions, the authorities allege Trovias user dark Web Firms as a way to transmit for people willing to buy or sell insider trading data while hiding behind “Anonymizing software” screen names and the bitcoin payments.
On AlphaBay and other dark web sites like Dream Market and Nightmare Market, the allegation against Trovias offered and eventually sold stock instructions. Although, as the complaint describes (PDF) his customers included at least one IRS agent and an FBI agent working undercover.
Catching Apostolos Trovias aka ‘The Bull’ by his Horns
This month, U.S. DoJ indicates “The Bull” aka Apostolos Trovias for insider trading via the darknet, at least since 2016. The 30-year old, Athens-based Trovias supposedly used dark web and encoded messaging applications for years to enlist in securities extortion and money laundering activities.
The stated extortion scheme was used to require and sell stock trading tips, pre-release earnings, and deal data related to public companies. The scheme negotiated related efforts to help to acquire and monetize classified non-public data, including:
- The attempted creation of an online marketplace to connect, for a commission, individual misappropriating Inside Information to Individual responsible to pay for and trade on Inside Information
- The sale of embezzling stock tips based on confidential customer trading data
- The sale of pre-release earnings reports and deal data misuse from the publicly-traded organization
According to FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) assistant director, Trovias had created an illegal, profitable business where he traded proprietary information on companies, but unfortunately, get caught:
“Behind the disguise of the Dark Web, using encrypted messaging applications and emails, Trovias generated a business model in which he sold out-for profit—proprietary data from various organizations, stock trading instructions, pre-release earnings, and other inside data, as we claim.”
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation runs within the Dark Web too, and as Trovias learned today, we don’t stop administrating the law just because you execute federal crimes from behind the router using your keyboard,” said FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. in a DoJ press release. Inside the same release, law enforcement authorities shared examples of some of the “The Bull’s” functionality.
For example, DoJ said, in mid-2017, Trovias had put up for sale, and successfully sold stock guide based on proprietary inside data on some security concerns. Such types of illicit sets of data were sold as part of “Weekly or monthly subscription,” or alone.
Moreover, to provide sales activity, Trovias utilized end-to-end encrypted messaging applications and email services to transmit with proposed and recent clients.
The indictment is yet to be Proven in Court
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss repeated that committing insider trading even using advanced technologies still creates a distinctly common result – a criminal allegation.
“Today’s charge established our Office’s enduring commitment to blocking those who follow and use inside information to achieve an unauthorized edge in the stock market.”
“As stated, Apostolos Trovias attempted to hide his insider trading scheme behind a software, screennames, and bitcoin payments,” said Strauss.
Trovias has been charged with one count of securities extortion, consisting of a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, and one count of money laundering that carries a maximum penalty of around 20 years to stay inside the prison.
But, without the court’s judgment, this allegation and claim are “merely accusations,” and unless and until proven guilty, the prisoner is considered innocent.
The Securities and Commodities and Fraud Task Force is inspecting the prosecution of this case is led by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Podolsky and Andrew Thomas.