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DOJ: Eight charged in $114 million securities "pump and dump" scheme

According to a release, the individuals charged in the scheme had over 1.5 million followers on Twitter, and allegedly used Discord to spread false information
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TEXAS, USA — Eight men were indicted for a long-running "pump and dump" scheme, that used social media platforms such as Twitter and Discord, to accrue at least $114 million, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The scheme reportly ran from January 2020 until April 2022, according to the release. They also used their collective social media following of over 1.5 million followers on Twitter to portray themselves as skilled stock traders by posting pictures of their profits and lavish lifestyles and spreading false information about the product they were promoting on an online community for stock traders called Atlas Trading. 

Atlas Trading also has an affiliated Discord server, which the men also used to spread false information and bring more people into their pump and dump scheme, according to the release. 

The men, alongside their Twitter and Discord handles can be found below:

  • Edward Constantinescu of Montgomery, TX
    • Twitter: @MrZackMorris
    • Discord: Zack Morris#0001
  • Perry "PJ" Matlock of The Woodlands, TX
    • Twitter: @PJ_Matlock
    • Discord: PJ Matlock#0001
  • John Rybarczyk of Spring, TX
    • Twitter: @Ultra_Calls
    • Discord: Ultra#0374
  • Daniel Knight of Houston, TX
    • Twitter: @DipDiety
    • Discord: Dan, Deity of Dips#8114
  • Gary Deel of Beverly Hills, CA
    • Twitter: @notoriousalerts
    • Discord: Mystic Mac [emoji of four-leaf clover]#7345
  • Tom Cooperman of Beverly Hills, CA
    • Twitter: @ohheytommy
    • Discord: TOMMY COOPS #5323
  • Stefan Hrvatin of Miami, FL
    • Twitter: @LadeBackk
    • Discord: Lade Backk#6083
  • Mitchell Hennessey of Hoboken, NJ
    • Twitter: @Hugh_Henne
    • Discord: HOODHUGHBEAR[emoji of an ox]#4034

According to the release, all eight were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Individually, they obtained additional charges.

Each man received along with their one conspiracy to commit charge:

  • Constantinescu: Three counts of securities fraud and one count of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity
  • Matlock: Five counts of securities fraud
  • Deel: Five counts of securities fraud
  • Rybarczyk: Four counts of securities fraud
  • Hrvatin: Two counts of securities fraud
  • Cooperman: Two counts of securities fraud
  • Hennessey: Two counts of securities fraud

If convicted, each person involved faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison for conspiracy to commit securities fraud and each charged count of securities fraud, according to the report. 

Constantinescu also reportedly faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if convicted of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions.

According to investor.gov, pump and dump schemes are campaigns that have the price of an asset inflated through misleading means to create the perception that the assets that are set to be sold are valuable. Later, once the value has been inflated, shares will be strategically sold in large amounts at the inflated price, leaving investors who were misled into investing with lost profits.

The FBI Houston Field Office is investigating the case, authorities say.

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