SEC lawsuit: Elon Musk committed securities fraud

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit against entrepreneur Elon Musk alleging securities fraud. The complaint hasn't yet been made publicly available, but likely centers on his harebrained tweeting about taking the company private with foreign money.

Tesla shares are down 5.7%, reports Reuters. That's about $307, as of 4:20 p.m. Eastern time today.

AMAZING UPDATE:

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Anonymous stock-market manipulators behind $20B+ of "mispricing" can be tracked by their writing styles

In a new Columbia Law and Economics Working Paper, Columbia Law prof Joshua Mitts uses "stylometry" (previously) to track how market manipulators who publish false information about companies in order to profit from options are able to flush their old identities when they become notorious for misinformation and reboot them under new handles. Read the rest

Apple's fine-print reveals a secret program to spy on Iphone users and generate "trust scores"

Buried in the new Apple Iphone and Apple TV privacy policy is an unannounced program that uses "information about how you use your device, including the approximate number of phone calls or emails you send and receive...to compute a device trust score when you attempt a purchase." Read the rest

Government seizes fraudulent military recruitment sites

Individuals willing to lay down their lives—or at least risk them for the promise of steady employment—shouldn't have to put up with phony websites designed to snag and sell their personal information. It's an opinion that's apparently shared by the FTC.

From Gizmodo:

The FTC filed a complaint in federal court today charging that two Alabama-based companies, Sun Key Publishing and Fanmail.com, made roughly $11 million selling data to private schools. The companies would contact the potential recruits and encourage them to enroll at specific for-profit schools under the false impression that the U.S. military endorsed the organizations. If the mark sounded interested, Sun Key would sell that recruit’s information for anywhere between $15 and $40. Tens of thousands of people visited the websites every month.

The defendants were charged with violating the FTC Act as well as the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule and reached a settlement with the government. But they won’t have to give back that $11 million because of their “inability to pay.”

The evil geniuses behind the scam used websites with the web addresses Army.com and Air-Force.com (apparently Army.com has been privately owned since 1995,) to lure in hopeful candidates looking to work a job that never makes you think about what you should wear to work. According to Gizmodo, for the time being, the FTC is staying quiet on which schools were benefiting from the ill-gotten personal information. Chances are, as the FTC develops their case against the digital imposters and their clients, we'll learn more about the who-did-whats. Read the rest

Game store accused of opening collectible card games and resealing them

A Magic:The Gathering pre-release kit [Amazon] is about $25 and contains six booster decks and a D20. What would you think if you bought 14 such kits from your local game store, received not one good card, then bought another kit at a grocery store and spotted that it was shrinkwrapped differently? Read the rest

GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter indicted on wire fraud & campaign finance crimes, incl. $1,500+ of Steam games

Actually, it's about ethics in purchasing videogames with campaign funds. Read the rest

Leaked FBI memo warns banks of looming "unlimited ATM cashout"

When scammers get inside of the networks of financial institutions, they sometimes stage "cashouts" where they recruit confederates around the world to all hit ATMs at the same time with cards tied to hacked accounts and withdraw the maximum the ATMs will allow; but the wilier criminals first disable the anti-fraud and withdrawal maximum features in the banks' systems, enabling confederates to drain ATMs of all the cash they contain. This is called an "unlimited cashout." Read the rest

Interview with a cryptocurrency scammer

Adam Guerbuez is a cryptocurrency evangelist whose Youtube channel is full of videos promoting cryptocurrency trading; when he got a Twitter message from a scammer promising to send him free Ethereum coins, he asked the scammer if they could talk about the scam. Read the rest

Wells Fargo: we stole houses and we're being investigated for dirty low-income housing credits

In its latest round of shareholder disclosures, Wells Fargo admitted that it "unnecessarily foreclosed" on 400-odd householders (that is, stole their houses) and failed to grant loan modifications to 625 qualified borrowers (this is just the latest revelation about Wells Fargo stealing houses); it's also being investigated for its practice of purchasing low-income housing credits. (via Naked Capitalism) Read the rest

Fraudsters offers thousands to low-waged telco employees for help with SIM Swap scams

SIM Swapping is a powerful form of fraud in which criminals convince the phone company to switch your phone number to a SIM they control; once they have your phone number, they can bypass the SMS-based two-factor authentication protecting your cryptocurrency wallets, social media accounts, and other valuable systems. Read the rest

Disgraced charter school exec pleads guilty to criminal money laundering, resigns from LA school board

Ref Rodriguez ran a big-money campaign to be the first representative of a charter school to be elected to LA's public school board; the money came from the deep-pocketed investors in charter schools, and was criminally laundered with Rodriguez's help and led to him being made president of LA's board of ed. Read the rest

Thieves use free-to-play games to turn stolen credit-card numbers into cash

Markets for video-game assets, sanctioned and unsanctioned, are a major target for credit-card scammers, who use bots to open fake Apple accounts using stolen cards, which are then used to buy up in-game assets that are flipped for clean, untraceable cash to players. Read the rest

Farming while Black: farmers allegedly sold fake certified seed in an effort to bankrupt them

Farming is a tough gig, made even tougher when racism and greed are plied against you.

According to WMC News, a number of African American farmers have claimed that, in March of 2017, they were sold fake seed by the Stine Seed Company. The most likely motivation for their receiving counterfeit seed, according to the farmers: money. If their fields fail to yield an adequate crop, the farmers would become insolvent, making it easy for anyone interested in their property to buy it out from under them. It’s a serious allegation but, thanks to Mississippi State University, the farmers have some serious science to back up the belief that they’d been swindled.

After testing certified Stein brand seed against the stuff that the black farmers had been sold in 2017, the University concluded that they had not been given the “certified” seed that they’d paid for. This is a huge deal. Branded seed stock from companies like Stine, does not come cheap. Farmers are willing to pay more for it because they know that the crop yields they’ll see will make it worth while at the end of the growing season. Due to the fact that the farmers spread fake seed on their fields, they suffered millions of dollars worth of losses.

From Raw Story:

Thomas Burrell, president of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, explained how black farmers were receiving one-tenth of the yield as their white neighbors.

“Mother nature doesn’t discriminate,” Burrell said. “It doesn’t rain on white farms but not black farms.

Read the rest

Danish anti-piracy lawyers stole millions from their clients, sentenced to years in prison

Johan Schlüter is (was!) a Danish lawyer whose firm contracted with the Antipiratgruppen (an entertainment industry group now called RettighedsAlliancen, whose members include the MPAA) to run legal campaigns against file-sharing services and their users. Read the rest

It's really easy to steal your cellphone number, and that's a gateway to stealing everything else

Consumer Reports covers cellphone identity theft, which includes taking out cellphone accounts in your name and using them to establish credit that can be leveraged to get credit-cards and loans in your name; and to steal your cellphone numbers and hijack your other accounts by intercepting two-factor authentication texts from your bank and other services. Read the rest

Sweden's notorious copyright troll said they'd sue, but if you ignore them, they just go away

When the Danish copyright troll Njord Law started operating in Sweden, it went to court saying that it was planning on enforcing copyright, not engaging in "speculative invoicing" -- a kind of legal blackmail that involves sending out thousands of legal threats on the off chance that some people will pay you to go away. Read the rest

Spectacular read: a profile of Anna Sorokin, a con-artist who convinced New York that she was a high-rolling socialite trust-funder

Jessica Pressler's long, gripping profile of con artist Anna Sorokin (AKA Anna Delvey) has all the making of a first-rate grifter novel, where the likable, unflappable rogue is revealed by inches to be a sociopath, a broken person who can't herself tell truth from fiction. Read the rest

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