Financial influencers are charged with a stock manipulation scheme

7 of the defendants: Perry Matlock (@PJ_Matlock), Edward Constanti (@MrZackMorris), Thomas Cooperman (@ohheytommy), Gary Deal (@notoriousalerts), Mitchell Hennessy (@Hugh_Henne), Stefan Hrvati (@LadeBackk) and John Rybar. (@Ultra_Calls), have built their following by creating content that highlights their personal financial experiences. Influencers often posted images of their place achievements from daily trading and investment and showed the spoils of a lifestyle of seemingly unlimited wealth; sports cars, helicopter ridesand private pool parties.

In addition to the SEC charges, the men face criminal charges that could carry up to 25 years in prison if convicted. Each was charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Constantine was charged with three counts of securities fraud and one count of dealing in the proceeds of certain illegal activities, the Justice Department said in a news release. Matlock and Deel are both charged with five counts of securities fraud; Rybarchik with four; and Hrvatin, Cooperman and Hennessy on two counts of securities fraud. Their first court hearing took place on Tuesday.

Their Twitter followers ranged from 100,000 to 600,000; Constantine has the largest audience with 549,900 followers. The band also used Hennessy’s iHeartRadio podcast Pennies, launched in July 2020 to promote their chosen stocks. Hennessy’s accomplice, Daniel Knight ( @DipDeity ), was also charged by the SEC with “aiding and abetting the alleged scheme.” (iHeartRadio did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.)

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