Trading On Stolen Credit-Card Data: Definitely Illegal

Nan Huang learned this the hard way.

Can do worse than send you running for the restroom.

Former Capital One fraud researcher Nan Huang was happy to admit that the sales data he used to to trade retail stocks ahead of earnings announcements was definitely stolen. And it was definitely non-public, what with it being in Capital One’s confidential database. But he drew the line at calling it “material.” Unfortunately for him, the jury in his civil fraud trial wasn’t as interested in splitting hairs.

A federal jury in Philadelphia agreed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that information used by the Capital One ex-employee, Nan Huang, to trade in shares of consumer retail companies ahead of sales and earnings reports was "material…."

The sales information met that definition because, in part, Huang used it to make "calculations that allowed him to project and predict" broader company sales patterns, said SEC lawyer David Axelrod in closing arguments on Wednesday.

Did it ever: Huang and his accomplice, an unrelated guy also named Huang, turned an 1,819% profit in just three years after learning that Capital One customers couldn’t get enough Chipotle burritos, among other things. Before, you know, it was a gastrointestinal hazard to eat Chipotle burritos.

U.S. jury finds ex-Capital One analyst liable in insider trading case [Reuters]