FOR THOSE DARK, MillionaireMike was a busy man.
Since 2016, the account with that moniker has purchased names, addresses, birthdays, and social security numbers in underground markets selling illegal online goods. He took his information to open bank accounts with the names of strangers, and used those accounts to conduct business based on the inside information he obtained from others. Eventually, he sold personal information to himself - to an undercover FBI agent who had been hiding it.
MillionaireMike is James Roland Jones, a 33-year-old SpaceX engineer who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit security fraud. The Department of Justice's criminal complaint describes a series of investments made by Jones in the spring of 2017, in particular on an unnamed developer account, based on false information provided to underperformers. That summer, the relationship was coming to an end: Jones told a secret agent on July 25 what the anonymous payment would be, investing $ 5,000 in his place. Two days later, the numbers came out. They were the same.
The scheme described by the DOJ is not very common. But a lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday delves deeper into the work of the accused Jones — and stands for the first time when a regulator puts his stuff on the dark web.
The SEC paints Jones down as a smarter interior trader than a fraudster, who allegedly trades in hunting tips based on hunting rather than real understanding. It says Jones first entered the world of black trade internally in late 2016, when he discovered a wiki listing various hidden trading sites. One of them advertised himself as “a community by exchanging inside information about (sic) with companies that sell to the public,” a related term for the onion called How to Beat Wall Street.
The entry price for this forum was real internal information. Instead of giving that up, Jonas instead allegedly tried to guess which revenue reports he would hold, in order to show understanding. He was wrong, he made a mistake again, and finally in the third attempt he was right, the SEC said. He was inside.
But not for long. The way to hit Wall Street did not result in a lifelong membership; you needed to keep proving your worth if you wanted to exchange tips. Jones could not. Within three months, the complaint alleges that the president withdrew his membership. The SEC says that while Jones said he did not receive any useful information from the group, it revealed a revelation: There was an internal advisory market, but many people were unable to access special black web forums. MillionaireMike could fill that gap.
The complaint alleges that Jones began selling "inside tips" in the spring of 2017. "His advice was simply predictions based on Jones' research and thinking," the SEC said, and it was often the case: stocks would go up or down. Jones allegedly sold the same stock tips in both directions, offering the following tip for free if it didn't work - as long as they left a good review on the black website where they were doing business. The SEC says Jones has taken $ 27,000 in bitcoin from willing investors throughout the program. Jones' attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
While this case marks the SEC's first lawsuit for security fraud on the black web, its appearance is unlikely. The agency follows a number of internal trade cases each year, though those numbers plummeted under the Trump administration. "He did something and convinced others to trade in bitcoin," said Urska Velikonja, a security and law enforcement expert at Georgetown University Law Center. "I see this as a violation of the mill, not a change in SEC enforcement directives."
It is still a sign in a dark world of internal trade that it can no longer operate with complete negligence. "This case shows that the SEC can and will monitor security violators wherever they operate, even on the black web," SEC Forth Worth regional office director David L. Peavler said in a statement. "We are committed to the staff and technology to break the silence of these criminals who are trying to throw their cases."
The SEC’s attention to the black web emerges as law enforcement agencies generally attack illegal activity there. Last fall, land loss resulted in 179 arrests spread across six countries. In 2019, a series of large black drug-related stores began to darken as authorities arrived. That same year, investigators seized a large, subterranean site that sold child sexual abuse material. And before that, Dutch police not only entered Hansa's black web market; they run for weeks to gather evidence and test users.
Somehow focusing on online marketing was inevitable. If so, it is surprising that it took the SEC so long. "The SEC may not have the resources to track everyone, but it wants to intimidate as many as possible," Velikonja said.
It may be too late for this case to make as much difference as prevention. According to a new study from security company Recorded Future, the work of the in-house trading on the black web reached a few years ago, and became frustrated after 2018. forum for multiple Kickass Market hacking purposes. Today, insider trading is not available on the black web, says Jordan Bell, a threatening intelligence analyst at Receded Future. The perpetrators may have moved to safer channels.
“I think there is a great need for this type of information, I just think it has been driven to places we don't see much