FBI Scours Social Media In Insider Probe

Nov 28 2012 | 1:04am ET

Would-be hedge fund insider-traders had better beware their Twitter feed.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is taking a long, hard look at Twitter and other social media as part of its crackdown on insider-trading, two agents said. The Feds are on the lookout for tips that may be exchanged on such networks.

"I will tell you technology will play a huge part, social media, Twitter," April Brooks, head of the FBI's New York field office and a member of the "Operation Perfect Hedge" team that has won more than 60 insider-trading convictions, told Reuters TV. "Any kind of technology that is new and doesn't exist today, if there is any way to exploit it, these individuals will exploit it."

Brooks and another FBI agent, David Chaves, stressed that the agency isn't unfairly focusing on hedge funds in the insider-trading probe, and isn't attacking the industry to distract attention from the lack of prosecutions stemming from the financial crisis. "There may be others who are responsible, but who don't necessarily violate the federal statutes."

"The message is we are our there, and we are going to be out there," Brooks added. "This type of violation, this type of crime, impacts everyone."

And even as the number of people charged with insider-trading crimes in recent years nears triple digits, the FBI isn't resting on its laurels.

"Some view insider trading as reaching this crescendo, and we have reached a top," Chaves said. "I would suggest we have not."

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