Trader 'faked Twitter accounts in £1m US stock fraud'
A British stock market trader is facing fraud charges in the US over tweets authorities claim were intended to manipulate the stock prices of two companies.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced it had filed securities fraud charges against James Craig, 62, of Dunragit, a village near Stranraer, Scotland, in a federal court in California.
According to the SEC's complaint, Craig allegedly tweeted false statements in 2013 about two companies, Audience and Sarepta Therapuetics, on Twitter accounts he created to look like the real Twitter accounts of well-known securities research firms.
Several tweets, suggesting Audience was under federal investigation, were said to cause the share price of the mobile audio company to fall 28% before the Nasdaq temporarily halted trading.
Further alleged tweets that claimed Sarepta Therapuetics was also subject to an investigation sent stock in the drug firm tumbling by 16%.
Craig is accused of buying and selling shares in both companies in an attempt to profit when the stock rebounded, the SEC said.
He has been indicted by a federal grand jury in San Francisco, where prosecutors claimed shareholders had lost more than 1.6 million dollars (£1.05 million) as a result, according to the Associated Press.
Jina Choi, director of the SEC's San Francisco regional office, said: "As alleged in our complaint, Craig's fraudulent tweets disrupted the markets for two public companies and caused significant financial losses for their investors.
"Craig also said in later tweets that the SEC would have a hard time catching the perpetrator. As today's enforcement action demonstrates, those tweets turned out to be false as well."
FBI Special Agent in Charge David Johnson said in a statement: "This investigation dismantled a stock market manipulation scheme that operated with one goal in mind - to falsely defame a company in order to destroy its stock value for financial gain."