Dark web con artist is indicted for selling insider trading information.
Apostolos Trovias, aka “The Bull,” 30 of Athens, Greece, has been indicted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) for securities fraud and money laundering in connection with a scheme to solicit and sell stock trading tips, pre-release earnings and contract information regarding public companies. Trovias used dark web forums to troll for people willing to buy or sell insider trading information behind “anonymizing software, screen names, and bitcoin payments.”
On AlphaBay, Dream Market and Nightmare Market, the indictment alleges Trovias “offered and eventually sold stock tips.” His customers, however, included at least one undercover IRS agent and an FBI agent. In 2017, Trovias gave the IRS agent pre-release info from earnings releases on at least two occasions in exchange for Bitcoin. The information came from fudged quarterly earnings reports for Illumina and Analogic.
Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the unsealing of the indictment and a criminal complaint.
The unsealed document explains, “On or about December 2016, APOSTOLOS TROVIAS…used websites on the Dark Web and encrypted messaging services to solicit and sell confidential, non-public information about publicly traded companies to enrich himself. TROVIAS’s scheme consisted of multiple related efforts to obtain and monetize confidential nonpublic business information, including (1) the sale of misappropriated stock tips based on confidential customer trading information; (2) the sale of pre-release earnings reports and deal information misappropriated from publicly-traded companies; and (3) the attempted creation of an online marketplace to connect, for a commission, individuals misappropriating Inside Information to individuals willing to pay for and trade on Inside Information.”
Strauss said, “Today’s charges demonstrate our Office’s continuing commitment to stopping those who pursue and use inside information to gain an illegal edge in the stock market. As alleged, Apostolos Trovias attempted to hide his insider trading scheme behind anonymizing software, screennames, and bitcoin payments. The Indictment and complaint unsealed today show that committing insider trading using new technologies still produces a decidedly traditional outcome: a criminal indictment.”
Sweeney added, “Behind the veil of the Dark Web, using encrypted messaging applications and emails, Trovias created a business model in which he sold — for profit — proprietary information from other companies, stock trading tips, pre-release earnings, and other inside information, as we allege. The FBI operates within the Dark Web too, and as Trovias learned today, we don’t stop enforcing the law just because you commit federal crimes from behind a router with your keyboard.”
Other scam artists have been charged or convicted in connection with AlphaBay. In February 2020, feds charged Larry Harmon for allegedly running a $300 million bitcoin money laundering scheme. In September 2020, Bryan Connor Herrell was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Herrell was a moderator for AlphaBay and pleaded guilty to conspiring to engage in a racketeer influenced corrupt organization.