Hoboken Man and 7 Others Indicted in $114 Million Social Media Pump and Dump Scheme

A New Jersey influencer has been charged with securities fraud in connection with a $114 million stock manipulation scheme involving the use of social media platforms Twitter and Discord.

Mitchell Hennessey, who goes by the Twitter handle @Hugh_Henne, is among eight people accused of using the platforms to orchestrate the scheme, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The other defendants are Edward Constantinescu aka Constantin 38, of Montgomery; Perry “PJ” Matlock, 38, of The Woodlands; John Rybarczyk, 32, of Spring; Dan Knight, 23, of Houston; Gary Deel, 28, and Tom Cooperman, 34, both of Beverly Hills, California; and Stefan Hrvatin, 35, of Miami, Florida.

From in or around January 2020 to in or around April 2022, the defendants allegedly profited at least approximately $114 million from their scheme. The defendants allegedly used their extensive social media presence on Twitter and Discord to hype interest in particular securities by posting false and misleading information in order to “pump” the prices of those securities, while concealing their intent to later “dump” their shares by selling them at the artificially inflated prices.

According to the indictment, the defendants allegedly used the following aliases on Twitter and Discord to perpetuate the scheme:

In addition to their Twitter presence, the defendants also allegedly ran an online community for individual stock traders called Atlas Trading, which defendants promoted as one of the largest, free online communities in the world for individual stock traders and which had a chatroom called Atlas Trading Discord. The defendants also allegedly used Atlas Trading Discord to disseminate false and misleading information about securities that they pumped and dumped as part of the charged scheme.

According to the indictment, the defendants collectively had over 1.5 million followers on Twitter to whom they allegedly disseminated false and misleading information about the securities that they pumped and dumped as part of the charged scheme.

“We are committed to protecting the investing public from market manipulation schemes, regardless of how they are carried out,” said U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani for the Southern District of Texas (SDTX). “As some use advances in technology and social media to prey upon the public, our office will be on the cutting edge of prosecuting this area of fraud.”

All defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Constantin is charged with three counts of securities fraud and one count of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity; Matlock and Deel are both charged with five counts of securities fraud; Rybarczyk is charged with four counts of securities fraud; and Hrvatin, Cooperman and Hennessey are each charged with two counts of securities fraud.