back to article Top tip for all you insider traders: Don't Google 'insider trading' from your work PC

An MIT postdoctoral staffer was arrested and charged with insider trading after he allegedly searched online for tips on committing the crime. Fei Yan, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is accused of securities and wire fraud: he allegedly used information from his wife's law practice to make favorable stock trades that netted more …

  1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Top tip kids, you have no expectation of privacy on you work PC.

    If you think that's intrusive some security company control rooms have webcams allowing customer to watch what the staff are doing.

    Welcome to the future.

    In this guys case well smart people can be stupid too. And outside of their specialty they often are.

    Something we should all keep in mind any time we get the urge to be "clever."

  2. EddieD


    VM (optional, but recommended)




    Sorry - not profit, privacy...

    Anyone who searches for something illicit from a corporate network is an imbecile. The folk in charge of those are (usually) more paranoid and privacy invading than Theresa May.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Idiot

      Still would have been caught. The SEC had already figured out he committed the crime because buying a stock before an acquisition drives up its price once is luck, twice is really amazing luck that borders on ridiculous, three or more times is obviously a crime. They already had enough on him to get a warrant to get info from his work, what they got just took away the "I'm a really really really really lucky day trader" defense.

      If he wanted to avoid detection for every company he bought knowing it would shoot up in value he should have bought ten that didn't, sold one that was going to shoot up too early, etc. to induce some noise into the system. Though I'm not sure if that would have enough but at least it wouldn't have been so bleedin' obvious!

      The other problem with his scheme was getting all his information from his wife. The SEC could probably easily determine that the same law firm was involved in all the purchases, and then zero in on his wife, then easily connect him and his mother. He'd need information coming from multiple sources - deals from multiple law firms, to make it harder to trace back. You know, like how the hedge fund guys do it (we all know some of them have to be doing this, but it is lost in the noise of their other trades so it pads their profits rather than being solely responsible for them)

      1. Hero Protagonist

        Re: Idiot

        Hmmm, you seem to know an awful lot about the subject....

      2. Swarthy Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Idiot

        Thanks. You just saved me a dubious Google DuckDuckGo search.

  3. Terry 6 Silver badge


    There's possibly an element of a generational thing. A generation that think they are ( Individually) somehow above normal, sensible behaviours. That they can Google away at work, and don't need to be careful because they are too knowing to get caught.

    In fact, of course, he should have been working, at work. Not Googling. And done that at home, or even better, at an internet cafe if he wanted to get away with this scam..

  4. Florida1920

    Greed kills

    He didn't know when to stop. Had he hit it once, SEC might have overlooked him. The Google trail on his PC was the final nail in his coffin, but he crawled in all by himself.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The defence.

    I was reading all these sites to make sure I wasn't committing a crime.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: The defence.

      "I was reading all these sites to make sure I wasn't committing a crime."

      or it's all research for your novel...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Want to commit insider trading? Here's how not to do it."

    that website should have displayed a mirror. But then, fair to the guy, he did SOME research. Beginning with step one (google). Sadly, he forgot about the step 0, prior to that. Oh well.

  7. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    Here is another piece of advice

    If you want to do any kind of personal trading, do not work in finance sector in the first place. Because not only is your personal trading under intense scrutiny, you are also likely prohibited from many types of trading and subject to minimum hold time of long positions, counting in weeks (while short positions are prohibited outright)

    1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Here is another piece of advice

      Preaching to the choir there.

      The number of hoops I have had to jump through in the past to make sure I stayed independent and was not breaching the compliance policy just to select the funds in my SIPP is horrendous.

      Now I just make sure it is not a client (easy - read last year's annual report), stay clear of the corporate finance teams near the coffee machine, register my interests with compliance and I'm free to invest.

  8. Hero Protagonist

    "Wolf of LOL Street" FTW

    Raising a pint to the subhead editor

    (imagine pint glass icon adjacent)

    1. Spacedinvader

      Re: "Wolf of LOL Street" FTW

      One of these? --->

  9. spacecadet66

    "An MIT postdoctoral staffer." Once again neatly illustrating the difference between erudition and common sense.

  10. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    The best way to get away with it... to get elected to Congress.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The best way to get away with it...

      "Before April 4th, 2012" is the line you forgot to include. That's when the exemption was revoked.

      Yes, there are still bastards in Congress (and elsewhere in government*) that are working soft spots in the system. Fortunately, they are required to disclose their trades. We should be continuing to name and shame them, and should push for stricter penalties where warranted.

      * No, this is not a Donald reference. His major financial dealings are in private industry, where insider trading does not apply.

  11. sjsmoto

    Wife's search at work: "How to bury a body in the basement."

  12. Alistair Silver badge

    Sooo, SEC bags a guy making pocket change off insider trading. Is this not akin to the local cops filing a parking ticket while the bank across the street is being robbed?

    <Nah, not a cynical bastard today. Not at all>

    Still don't know where 20% of Rosneft's stock went.........

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > Sooo, SEC bags a guy making pocket change off insider trading.

    Indeed. $100 grand is hardly what I would call a profit. It would have some merit if you made $100,000 out of a $37.99 investment (even for an inside trader), but in absolute terms it's just pocket change, as pointed out above, and easily achievable via normal trading if you pay just a little bit of attention.

    On the other hand, he might have been doing it just for the thrill of it.

  14. Psy-Q

    A practical question: How did they get to his queries, since they're surely transmitted via HTTPS. Do they MITM every employee's computer? Keyloggers? Cameras filming the screen? I think none of this would even be legal here (Switzerland) unless done by the feds themselves and only with a court order.

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