SEC cannot locate TheBull accused of insider trading fraud

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) appears to be having difficulties with its action brought against Apostolos Trovias, also known as TheBull. Trovias is charged with perpetrating a fraudulent scheme to sell what he called “insider trading tips” on the Dark Web.

According to a letter filed by the SEC in the New York Southern District Court on September 21, 2021, the Commission understands that Trovias has been detained in Peru pursuant to a request by the Department of Justice, pending an extradition request by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (USAO).

Neither Commission counsel nor, to their knowledge, the USAO has been able to determine where Trovias is being held in Peru. Nor has any attorney for Trovias contacted Commission counsel.

Until the Commission obtains an address for Trovias, it cannot request that Peruvian authorities serve Trovias under the Inter-American Convention on Letters Rogatory and Additional Protocol, the applicable service convention.

According to the SEC’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, from at least December 2016 through early 2021, Trovias—operating under the pseudonym “TheBull”—engaged in a deceptive scheme to offer and sell so-called “insider trading tips” on Dark Web marketplaces to purchasers whom Trovias offered an unfair advantage for trading securities in the public markets.

As alleged in the complaint, Trovias claimed that the information he was selling consisted of order-book data from a securities trading firm that was provided to Trovias by an employee of the firm. Trovias allegedly sold those “tips” through one-off sales, as well as weekly and monthly subscriptions. Trovias allegedly sold over 100 subscriptions to investors via the Dark Web over the course of the scheme.

The complaint alleges that, in addition to order-book information, Trovias sold the pre-release earnings reports of publicly traded companies. The complaint further alleges that Trovias acknowledged to federal authorities that this information was “sensitive and more importantly illegal to use or share.”

The SEC’s complaint charges Trovias with violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. The complaint seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement, prejudgment interest and penalties against Trovias.

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