The MasterFeeds: April 2012

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April 21, 2012

SEC charges U.K. twins over "stock picking robot" #scams $$

I love it how they were 15 when they started their scam!  Talk about precocious twins!!

SEC charges U.K. twins over
"stock picking robot"

2012-04-11 16:43 ET - Market Summary

Also Street Wire (U-*SEC) U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Also Street Wire (U-HENC) Holloman Energy Corp
Also Street Wire (U-UOMO) UOMO Media Inc

By Mike Caswell

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil fraud charges against twin brothers from the United Kingdom, claiming that they set up an elaborate market manipulation scheme at the age of 16 that netted them millions of dollars. The brothers claimed to have created a "stock picking robot" that could identify penny stocks that would rise in value. They then convinced 75,000 investors to subscribe to a tout sheet based on the robot, called the Doubling Stocks newsletter. At the same time, they secretly charged stock promoters fees to have stocks placed in the newsletter. In all, the brothers netted $1.2-million in subscription fees from their newsletter and $1.8-million in promotion fees, the SEC says. (All figures are in U.S. dollars.)

The charges are contained in a civil complaint the SEC filed against the brothers on Friday, April 20, in the Southern District of New York. It names as defendants Thomas Edward Hunter and Alexander John Hunter, now both 20 years old. The complaint identifies 12 stocks the brothers promoted in 2007 and 2008. They include Holloman Energy Corp., an OTC Bulletin Board listing with ties to Vancouver, and UOMO Media Inc., an OTC-BB listing based in Toronto.

According to the complaint, the scheme began in 2007 when the brothers started using the website doublingstocks.com to advertise an electronic newsletter that purportedly relied on investment analyses performed by a "stock picking robot" named "Marl." The site claimed that Marl had been developed by Michael Cohen, a contractor who created a computer stock trading model for Goldman Sachs. According to the SEC, Marl was complete fiction, as there was no technical analysis behind the stock picks. In addition, there was no Michael Cohen that ever worked for Goldman Sachs.

Despite that, Marl became somewhat popular, the complaint stated. It attracted 75,000 subscribers, mostly from the United States, who paid a total of $1.2-million in subscription fees for the service. In return, they either received stock picks by e-mail or a version of Marl that ran on their home computer. The home-based version was programmed to make the appearance of performing a complex analysis, but would actually select stock picks from a database that Thomas Hunter maintained, the complaint stated.

At the same time, the brothers used another website, equitypromoter.com, to tout their ability to "rocket" the price of thinly traded penny stock issuers, the SEC said. The site proclaimed that Thomas Hunter was running extremely popular penny stock websites, which were attracting thousands of daily visitors. Many of those visitors provided their e-mail addresses and sought to receive weekly stock picks, the site stated.

The promoter site also proved popular, according to the complaint. Stock promoters paid a collective $1.8-million over the course of the scheme to have the brothers insert their companies into the Marl system or send them out as e-mail picks. As the newsletters were widely circulated and the promoted stocks were generally thin traders, the stocks often spiked dramatically after the picks went out, the SEC says. In most cases, they also quickly corrected downward, leaving investors with shares worth less than their original value.

With many of the stocks, promoters sold large numbers of shares after the picks were distributed, the SEC claims. The promoters wired payment for the touting to the brothers' bank account in the United Kingdom.

Out of the stocks the SEC listed, one of those with the largest gains was UOMO Media, a Toronto company that purports to be a "multi-channel entertainment company." Between May 18 and May 19, 2009, the stock went to $1.06 from 35 cents after a recommendation by doublingstocks.com. Its volume went to 20.3 million shares, from 86,000. (By May 22 the stock had fallen to 33 cents, and it was last at 0.2 cent.)

Also on the list was Holloman Energy, an oil and gas company that, around the time of the newsletters, listed a Calgary office and a Vancouver contact number. On Nov. 6, 2007, the day the newsletter listed it as a pick, the stock rose to $1.04 from 94 cents on substantially higher volume of 716,900 shares. (By Nov. 13 the stock had fallen to 70 cents, and it was last at 26.5 cents.)

According to the SEC, one of the difficulties the brothers faced was collecting money without attracting too much attention. Initially, they had deposited money from stock promoter payments and newsletter subscription fees directly into a U.K. bank account. They had to change their practice when, in January, 2009, British authorities froze that account. From that point they used a Panamanian bank account, the complaint stated.

The SEC is seeking disgorgement of profits and appropriate civil penalties. In addition to the brothers, the suit names as a relief defendant a Panamanian company, Regent Investment Group Corp.

None of the companies the brothers promoted, including the two Canadian stocks, are listed as defendants or accused of wrongdoing.

April 17, 2012

YPF move underlines radical bent of Fernández

Nationalizations, here we go again...

YPF move underlines radical bent of Fernández

Financial Times, 12:33am Tuesday April 17th, 2012

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By Jude Webber in Buenos Aires and Miles Johnson in Madrid
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Spain's Repsol says nationalisation 'discriminatory and manifestly illegal' and vows to study 'all legal actions to defend the interest of its shareholders'

Read the full article at: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c7288fe8-8804-11e1-8a47-00144feab49a.html




April 1, 2012

The French election: An inconvenient truth | The Economist

What do you expect when you have not balanced you budget since 1978...


The underlying problem is that, over the past ten years, France has lost competitiveness. In 2000 hourly labour costs in France were 8% lower than those in Germany, its main trading partner; today, they are 10% higher (see chart 2). French exports have stagnated while Germany’s have boomed. An employer today pays twice as much in social charges in France as he does in Germany. France’s unemployment rate is 10% next to 5.8% in Germany—and has not dipped below 7% for nearly 30 years.

This erosion of French competitiveness raises hard questions about the underlying social compact. Frenchmen cherish the notion that everyone has an equal right to decent services in good times and a generous safety net in bad. But what sort of level of support, in sickness, joblessness, infancy or old age, can France really afford to offer its citizens? How can the country justify its massive public administration—a millefeuille of communes, departments, regions and the central state—which employs 90 civil servants per 1,000 population, compared with 50 in Germany? How can France lighten the tax burden, including payroll social charges, so as to encourage entrepreneurship and job creation?


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