If you’re going to risk time in federal prison, at least do it for life-changing money, rookie. MIT research scientist Fei Yan searched “how sec detect unusual trade” and “insider trading in an international account” on Google before buying a bunch of stocks that brought him $120,000 in profit. Then the SEC arrested him, alleging Yan received confidential information from his wife who was working at the international firm Linklaters. (She has since been suspended.)
Here’s how the SEC summed up Yan’s actions, via CNBC:
“Yan attempted to evade detection by researching prior SEC cases against insider traders and using a brokerage account in a different name, but we identified the profitable trades in deals advised by the same law firm and traced them back to him,” said Joseph G. Sansone, co-chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse unit.
It doesn’t appear Yan’s search history is what initially implicated him. What got the SEC on his tail was opening an investment account in his mother’s name, purchasing stocks on two companies that his wife was working with on acquisition deals, and then sold his shares after the acquisitions were made public. But his searches are certainly additional incriminating evidence.
According to prosecutors, one article that Yan’s googling produced was titled “Want to Commit Insider Trading? Here’s How Not to Do It.” Presumably, they mean this 2013 article from The New York Times. (Don’t worry, you can click the link. As long as you don’t plan on mysteriously profiting six figures immediately after.) If he had watched Office Space, he would’ve learned that the best way to look up how to commit a crime is by looking in the dictionary, like a real nerd.
Either that article sucks, or Yan didn’t listen.