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via BBC News

Twin brothers from England face US civil charges for allegedly defrauding investors out of $1.2m (£745,000) through a bogus stock-picking robot.

Alexander and Thomas Hunter, of Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, were aged 16 when, in 2007, they devised the scheme of the robot, dubbed Marl, say US officials.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said the stocks “picked” were actually firms that paid the twins hefty fees.

The Hunters allegedly snared about 75,000 investors, mostly in the US.

In November, Newcastle Crown Court ordered Alexander Hunter to pay back nearly $1m after he admitted providing unregulated financial advice. He was given a suspended 12-month prison sentence.

According to an affadavit filed in a New York federal court on Friday, investors paid $47 for newsletters listing Marl’s stock picks and $97 for a “home version” of the software.

“The longer Marl is allowed to run on a computer… The More Advanced He Becomes!” one of the brothers’ websites said.

The home version was simply a program that grabbed ticker symbols fed in by the Hunters, who reportedly live with their parents in Whitley Bay.

The twins collected an additional $1.9m from companies that paid to appear in the newsletters and in the software program, according to the US court document.

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