WASHINGTON – U.S. investors thought they were buying access to a stock-picking robot named “Marl.” Instead, they paid millions to teenage twin brothers in England who now face civil fraud charges for an alleged penny-stock swindle: The robot didn’t exist.
The stocks picked were companies that paid hefty fees to Alexander and Thomas Hunter, just 16 when the alleged scheme began in 2007, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday. As stock prices jumped, the Hunters’ clients dumped their shares for a profit.
The SEC filed a civil suit against the Hunters in U.S. District Court in Manhattan Friday.
The Hunters drew roughly 75,000 investors, most of them in the United States, who paid at least $1.2 million for newsletters revealing the robot’s insights and a “home version” of the robot software.