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Fake Stock-Picking Robot Threatens To Ruin Things For All The Legit Stock-Picking Robots Out There

Imagine, if you will, that you are a stock-picking robot. You’ve put in the time, come up through the trenches, and have finally started to garner the respect you deserve. Investors are flocking to your fund, begging to put in as much money as you’ll let them. People were wary at first, not sure what to make of your style, but you’ve finally proved to them you’re the real deal. Life is good. Then some two-bit hacks come along and threaten to destroy everything you’ve worked for, sullying the reputation of legitimate stock-picking robots with the one they used as a front for their scam.

Starting at the age of sixteen, the defendants, twin brothers Alexander John Hunter and Thomas Edward Hunter, developed an elaborate scheme to manipulate the prices of penny stocks at the expense of unwitting investors. The Hunters concocted and hyped the tale of a “stock picking robot” named “Marl” that they claimed could identify penny stocks that were poised to appreciate sharply in value. In their email newsletters and websites (doublingstocks.com and daytradingrobot.com), the defendants represented that the “robot” was a highly sophisticated computer trading program and the product of extensive research and development. The defendants’ story was persuasive. Approximately 75,000 investors, the vast majority of whom lived in the United States, paid at least $1,200,000 for annual subscriptions to the Doubling Stocks newsletter and copies of the robot software. In reality, the “stock picking robot” was a work of fiction.

Did “Marl” come up with brilliant investment ideas based on painstaking research, meetings with management, and complex analysis? No, in fact he did not.

Defendant Alexander John Hunter, in seeking bids to create the software in 2007, described the requirements for the software to freelance software coders as follows: Need a small software program which will appear to the user that once running it is analyzing thousands of penny stocks. Every so often, the software will find a stock, and a message will appear from the system tray, and on the program showing the ticker symbol. IMPORTANT: This software does not actually find stocks at all. It should connect to my database and simply request any new stocks I have put in. Basically this is almost a “fake” piece of software and needs to simply appear advanced to the user…

To say nothing of the fact that his purported credentials were bold-faced lies.

On their doublingstocks.com website, the defendants referred to the stock-picking robot as “Marl”, combining the first names of its purported inventors, Michael Cohen (“Cohen”) and Carl Williamson. On doublingstocks.com, the defendants claimed that Michael Cohen “developed the famous ‘Global Alpha’ computer stock trading model” as a contractor for the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (“Goldman Sachs”). The Global Alpha program, the defendants claimed, in “most years is responsible for $4,000,000,000+ Annual Trading Profit.” The defendants’ representations about “Michael Cohen” were false. No such employee or contractor worked in that capacity at Goldman Sachs.

Marl’s twin bosses also inflated their own age (claiming to be 23 years-old when they are in fact twenty), while suggesting that Marl, supposedly 5, was some kind of trading wunderkind.

SEC v. Hunter Brothers [SEC]
SEC Charges British Twin Brothers Touting “Stock Picking Robot” in Internet Pump-and-Dump Scheme [SEC]

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139 Responses to “Fake Stock-Picking Robot Threatens To Ruin Things For All The Legit Stock-Picking Robots Out There”

  1. Pun Jabber says:

    So, did the alleged stock picking robot "Marl" burrow into cigarette company stocks. This issue could nick a teen's career.

  2. Guest says:

    Everyone knows there's only one real stock picking robot.

    J. Cramer

  3. Guest says:

    Marl? The emails, "Just Thinking of You" e-cards, the text messages, aren't…?

    -STAR

  4. Guest says:

    Over Achievers

  5. Nailz6 says:

    What about his legitimate years?

  6. Winklevoss says:

    Gives us legitimate twins a bad name!

  7. guest says:

    <cough, hack> Do they license their code?

    J. Simons

  8. STAR says:

    The Hunter Brothers give this industry a bad name.

    -Spencer Greenberg, Rebellion Research

  9. Marley Marl says:

    Hey, you bitches better listen up to what I'm saying here about these stoX!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62gl8dtMjCw

    No, shit for brains, I ain't no robot, but I'm as fucking real as it gets.

  10. C Ponzi says:

    I had the same problem with this Madoff fellow sullying my good name

  11. seriously says:

    We would have been better off with Marl than Iwanowski and Carhart

    – Globa Alpha LPs

  12. It's possible says:

    The Hunter's went on to build BATS a platform for executing IPOs

  13. Arthur Dunlop says:

    I just love this story. Because Marl is described not as a software program, but as a robot. And then the software had to be developed to convince someone who was actually observing it that it was working, which means that the Twins showed Marl to somebody. I want to believe that these kids built a robot, with arms and legs and what-not, maybe it could roll around the room like Rosie from the Jetsons, maybe it had flashing lights like 2-XL. I hope that it could talk and shake your hand. Then they showed Marl to someone (Mom, Dad, Uncle Larry, Wesley Snipes, Peter Thiel?) and the person says, "I thought you kids were fake as all fuck with this stock-picking nonsense, but goddammit if I didn't just see that stock-picking robot with my very own eyes. Sign me up for that newsletter." And then the kids were high-fiving on their way to buy skinny jeans and alcoholic soda and cocaine sandwiches or whatever the fuck it is teenagers waste their money on these days.

    • STAR says:

      "I thought you kids were fake as all fuck with this__ nonsense, but goddammit if I didn't just see that __ robot with my very own eyes. Sign me up for that __."

      How all frauds will be perpetrated in the future.

  14. Steak says:

    Marl & Wollensky

  15. guest says:

    That's nothing, you guys should meet my stock picking octopus. His name is Carl and if you know which arm to follow, you can't lose

  16. VonSloneker says:

    Great…so my days at Citigroup are numbered

    – Watson

  17. VandelayCapital says:

    C-3PO > Johnny 5 > Marl > Tilson

  18. Guest says:

    This speaks volumes about the decline of today's youth. Not a single mention of vast amounts made by front running their customers. Of course we are dealing with the SEC…

  19. Frank Abganale, Jr says:

    Pretty clever for a couple of 16 year olds.
    Golf clap.

  20. Duncan says:

    Oh, boys will be boys.

    Actually, this reminds me of the scam I ran back in high school when i was head of the computer club. Tricked our classmates out of enough money for several keg parties.

    The real money in a scam like this isn't what you get from the suckers – it's the commission paid by the guys whose penny stocks you're pimping.

  21. Starlohansson says:

    Meep morp bop bleep sheep norp clop borp

  22. Guest CFA says:

    The reason they got away with it for as long as they did was because the first 5 times the SEC came to the house to investigate, the Hunter boys told them, "These aren't the droids you're looking for".

  23. W.O.P.R. says:

    Pikers.

  24. Mexi_Cant says:

    I will bet $4,000,000,000,000,000,000+ there has been at least one employee at GS named Michael Cohen.

  25. Michael Bay says:

    1) Robots
    2) Stock Picking
    3) S LeBeouf
    3) Live action dramatization of BWater exam
    4) ???
    5) Profit

  26. Guest says:

    It's past 3 pm on 4/20, and we are still awaiting Matt Levine's first post of the day. I can't wait to read a post written by a stoned Levine.

  27. Guest says:

    Kids and their stop kicking robots these days…

  28. guest says:

    Note to the prosecutor: Tread lightly on the false claims of an affiliation with global alpha. These two boneheads and their fake robot probably consistenly outperformed global alpha…

  29. Fuckin hell says:

    Holy shit this was a good comment thread. Someone even managed to get in a dig at Tilson.

  30. SadBro says:

    MARL, so good to see you!

    -Billy Madison

  31. Last blackberry user says:

    I heard Marl also grades the CFA exam

  32. Guest CFA says:

    Wait, their "customers" were surprised to learn that the newsletter subscription that touted penny stock picking from a robot was fake? And all this after they had spent that hard earned $16/year. Who'd have ever thought….

  33. jobs.dealbreaker.com says:

    Quantitative Analyst

    The ideal candidate will have a PhD in a Quantitative Field along with a minimum of two years making software appear advanced to the user.

  34. coq10 says:

    This blog has inspired me to continue focusing on my own blog

  35. UBS trader says:

    Shit, we actually used it a lot…
    -UBS trader

  36. Accordingly, My spouse and i decided involving our strategy to impart them with terrific advice on slimming we seen for the web.

  37. Guest says:

    Marl… are you a pleasure robot?

  38. Guest says:

    No mention as to the performance of those penny stocks during that period? Just curious.

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  40. tom272 says:

    Kids and their stop kicking robots these days. software development

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