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Overstock.com Gets Hit With Securities Fraud Complaint

An Overstock.com shareholder is accusing the online retail company of a “pump and dump” scheme related to the bizarre departure of former chief executive officer Patrick Byrne. Shareholder Benjamin Ha says Overstock inflated its stock price to punish short sellers by announcing a dividend, the Washington Post reports. Byrne in September sold 4.7 million shares in the company hours before Overstock announced that it was delaying the dividend and less than a week before Overstock lowered its earnings forecast for the year. The moves sent the company’s stock price tumbling. Byrne resigned from his position in August, a few weeks […]

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Movie Producer Admits to Investment Fraud Scam

A supposed South Florida movie producer is in hot water after admitting that he misused some $60 million of investors’ cash. Benjamin McConely recently pleaded guilty to one count of federal wire fraud, stemming from a scheme in which he and two others bilked tens of millions of dollars out of investors who thought they were helping McConely make an indie film. Instead, McConely and the others put the money in their own bank accounts and used it for luxury cars, travel, hotels, real estate and jewelry. The 37 year old pointed to some serious film credits to get investors […]

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The Antitrust Probe Into Facebook Heats Up

Social media giant Facebook’s rough patch with regulators is not showing any signs of improvement for Mark Zuckerberg and company. A total of 47 state attorneys general have joined an investigation into whether Facebook violated antitrust law by putting user information at risk and artificially inflating advertising prices, according to Reuters. The top public lawyers in those states are being led in the probe by New York Attorney General Letitia James. “Facebook has played a major role in shaping our global online economy as one of the largest social media platforms in the world. It is illegal for a business […]

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NY Consumer Protection Agency Warns of Public WiFi, USB Dangers

The New York Division of Consumer Protection is warning people about the hacking risks of using public WiFi and USB ports. “Millions of people every day step out into the world, and all its surrounding technology,” New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said in a recent public notice.  “As technology grows and continues to make our lives easier, it is also making it easier for hackers to get access to our information. It is important for consumers to know what they can do to protect themselves.” The notice is meant to alert people about the dangers of using public […]

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SEC Hits New York Ticket Reseller with Fraud Charges

The leaders of a New York ticket resale company charged with bilking investors out of millions of dollars in cash took “keep it in the family” to a whole new level, according to federal investigators. The Securities and Exchange Commission in April charged James Siniscalchi with stealing money from investors that was supposed to be used to gobble up high-demand tickets for theatre, sporting and other events and then resell them for a profit. Siniscalchi took control of the operation after his cousin, Joseph Meli, plead guilty to criminal charges of defrauding 130 investors out of $95 million without ever […]

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Artificial Intelligence Raises Music Copyright Questions

Algorithms and artificial intelligence are changing the way people live and work, from learning the natural language intricacies of Siri and Alexa users and predicting how Tesla drivers will want their seats and air conditioning set up to harnessing quantum computing to tackle some of life’s biggest issues, like poverty and disease. The AI revolution is also putting its stamp on the music world, including by using algorithms to write and record new tunes. That raises a number of complicated copyright issues, as The Verge recently reported. Among them: Who owns the copyright to music created by artificial intelligence? And […]

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Immigration Investment Fraud Scheme Nets PNC Bank

PNC bank was recently accused of setting up a sham account to help fraudsters milk an immigrant investment program for more than $40 million. Foreign investors in the Palm House Hotel, a failed condo-hotel project in Palm Beach, Fla., in March sued developer Robert Matthews. They say Matthews and others used money meant for the project as a personal slush fund to buy a yacht and various luxury homes. The investors are now also accusing PNC Bank of participating in the fraud by claiming to create an escrow account for the project investments, which instead operated as a business checking […]

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Warren Buffet Victimized by Ponzi Scheme

It turns out anyone can be victimized by investment fraud, even Warren Buffett. Buffett’s firm Berkshire Hathaway recently posted a $377 million loss related to investments in a fraudulent solar energy company, according to Bloomberg News. The firm gave $340 million to California-based DC Solar with the expectation that it would be able to use tax credits for solar energy investments to trim its tax bill. Federal prosecutors say DC solar, a mobile solar generator producer, took money from Berkshire Hathaway and other new investors to pay off older investors. The company produced only a fraction of the some 12,000 […]

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Hemp Farmers Can Now Seek Intellectual Property Protection

The Trump administration is offering to extend important legal rights for some of the biggest players in the hemp industry. The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced that hemp farmers can now apply for intellectual property protections for their seed varieties. That would prevent other growers from using those unique types of seeds without permission for up to 20 years. “Certificate owners have rights to exclude others from marketing and selling their varieties, manage the use of their varieties by other breeders, and enjoy legal protection of their work,” the USDA said in an April announcement. Applications will be […]

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Senate Intellectual Property Panel Looking at Illegal Sports Streaming

Lawmakers in the nation’s capital are taking a closer look at illegal sports streaming and the impact that pirated versions of games could have on the intellectual property rights of professional sports leagues, live event producers and television companies. The response may eventually include increasing criminal penalties. “Strong IP rights are vital to making these events possible,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said during a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “One of the reasons that illegal streaming has exploded in recent years is that the federal criminal law has not kept pace with the growth of illegal streaming technology.” Tillis is […]

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