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Yet another naked shorting disinformation campaign laid bare
#1
Yet another naked shorting disinformation campaign laid bare

Posted on 30 December 2009 by Judd Bagley



It’s difficult to overstate the influence of Wikipedia these days, particularly when it comes to informing media coverage. A recent experiment, carried out by a student in Ireland, makes this very clear. So it should come as no surprise that those who wish to minimize the perceived impact of illegal naked short selling on markets and the economy as a whole have made the online encyclopedia a major point of focus.
Recently, yet another effort to infiltrate and alter the content of Wikipedia by a proponent of illegal shorting came to light and was foiled. As before, the infiltrator was former Business Week reporter Gary Weiss (whom a senior contributor recently termed “one of [Wikipedia’s] most slippery sockpuppeteers”), operating for over a year in complete defiance of an edict specifically banning him from the site based on his very well-documented history of abusing Wikipedia for his own conflicted purposes.
In the past (as you can read about here), we know Weiss spread misinformation relating to stock fraud via Wikipedia on behalf of the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC), the Wall Street firm considered a key enabler of illegal short selling. Exactly who’s sponsoring Weiss these days is unclear; however, as the evidence that follows will demonstrate, his concerted effort to whitewash DTCC’s Wikipedia article makes that company the prime suspect.
Now that his ruse has been uncovered – yet again – the focus becomes one of identifying and repairing the damage done. A brief review of some of the thousands of changes made by Weiss will give you a sense of both the scope of the problem and the nature of his motives. I’m organizing the following tiny sampling of Weiss’s Wikipedia edits by topic, with the content as it originally appeared on the left, with Weiss’s changes on the right. Words added or removed appear in red.
As you read what follows, ask yourself two questions:

  1. Which version, be it the left (before Weiss) or the right (after Weiss), better reflects reality and serves readers (particularly journalists) seeking to form an opinion?
  2. What might be Weiss’s motive for obsessively making these changes (and literally hundreds more like them)?
Wikipedia Article
Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation
Before:
While there is no dispute that illegal naked shorting happens, there is a fight as to the extent to which DTCC is responsible. Some blame DTCC as the keeper of the system where it happens, and charge that DTCC turns a blind eye to the problem.
After:
Critics blame DTCC as the keeper of the system where it happens, and charge that DTCC turns a blind eye to the problem.

Wikipedia Article
Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation
Before: In 2007, WayPoint Biomedical sued DTCC for DTCC’s refusal to comply with a subpoena request for documents that Waypoint needs to track trades in the company’s shares.
After:

Wikipedia Article
Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation
Before: The DTCC has also denied having any relationship with financial journalist Gary Weiss. Weiss is alleged to have manipulated an account on Wikipedia, with assistance from several Wikipedia administrators, to promote naked short selling on the website from January 2006 to March 2008. After:(added by others and removed by Weiss five times)

Wikipedia Article
Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation
Before: DTCC has been sued with regard to its alleged participation in naked short selling. Further allegations about DTCC’s possible involvement have been made by Senator Robert Bennett and discussed by the NASAA and in articles — disagreed with by DTCC — in the Wall Street Journal and Euromoney.
After: DTCC has been sued over alleged participation in naked short selling.

Wikipedia Article
Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation
Before: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), however, views naked shorting as a serious enough matter to have initiated two separate efforts to restrict the practice.
After:

Wikipedia Article
Naked short selling
Before:

After: Author and reporter Gary Weiss maintains that the SEC enacted Regulation SHO in part due to pressure from a handful of small and microcap companies. He also cites economic justifications for naked short selling and downplays its significance as a problem for the market.
(note: upon making this change, Weiss also added a link to his book, referring to himself as a source of “notable media opinions.”)

Wikipedia Article
Naked short selling
Before: Amidst growing concern in 2008 about the effect of naked short selling on faltering companies, the SEC issued a temporary order restricting short-selling of the shares of 19 financial firms deemed systemically important. Shortly following the failure of Lehman Brothers in September of 2008, the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, the SEC expanded the temporary rules to remove exceptions and to cover all companies.
After: As part of its response to the crisis in the North American markets in 2008, the SEC issued a temporary order restricting fails to deliver in the shares of 19 financial firms deemed systemically important. In September of 2008, the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, the SEC expanded the temporary rules to remove exceptions and to cover all companies.

Wikipedia Article
Naked short selling
Before: During hearings on the 2008 financial crisis before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, former Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld said a host of factors including a crisis of confidence and naked short selling attacks followed by false rumors contributed to both the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. After: During hearings on the 2008 financial crisis before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, former Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld said a host of factors including a crisis of confidence and naked short selling attacks followed by false rumors contributed to both the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers.
However, Fuld’s testimony was generally derided as self-serving.

Wikipedia Article
Naked short selling
Before:Rolling Stone magazine featured naked shorting in an article, “Wall Street’s Naked Swindle” by Matt Taibbi, in October 2009. In the article, it was reported that an unknown investor had shorted $1.7 million worth of Bear Stearns stock through a variety of options. For the item to make a profit, Bear Stearns would have had to have lost half its value or more in less than nine days. When Bear Stearns collapsed, the options were worth $270 million, or 159 times its previous value.
After:Rolling Stone magazine featured naked shorting in an article, “Wall Street’s Naked Swindle” by Matt Taibbi, in October 2009.

Wikipedia Article
Naked short selling
Before: Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi presentation on Naked Shorting
After:

Wikipedia Article
Naked short selling
Before: In an October 2009 article in Rolling Stone magazine, journalist Matt Taibbi wrote that there had been an attack on Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers in March 2008 employing “naked short-selling”.
After:

Wikipedia Article
Naked short selling
Before: Effective September 18, 2008, amid claims that aggressive short selling had played a role in the failure of financial giant Lehman Brothers, the SEC made permanent and expanded the rules to remove exceptions and to cover all companies.
After: Effective September 18, 2008, the SEC permanently removed an exemption for market making in options on stocks, and making an explicit anti-fraud regulation relating to that activity. The stringent delivery requirement is temporary.

Wikipedia Article
Naked short selling
Before: http://www.deepcapture.com/ Blog devoted to naked shorting practices
After:

Wikipedia Article
Robertson v. McGraw-Hill Co.
Before: In the article, Weiss described…Weiss claimed…Weiss told how…Weiss described…Weiss’ report was distributed…Weiss’ predictions… The article described…it claimed…
After: The article told how…it described…the article was distributed…the article’s predictions

Wikipedia Article
Robertson v. McGraw-Hill Co.
Before: In the suit, Robertson requested $1 billion in damages for, in Robertson’s words, “false and defamatory statements” contained in Weiss’ article. Media response to the suit noted the unusually high damages demanded for a libel suit and speculated that the case would be watched with concern by the publishing industry.
After: The suit was subsequently settled without payment of damages, and Robertson’s fund closed in March 2000.

Wikipedia Article
Michael Milken
Before: Starting in June 2009, a series of articles by Mark Mitchell were published on a website called Deep Capture about Milken’s ties to a select group of hedge funds and the stock manipulation of a company called Dendreon. Dendreon has developed a drug called Provenge that enables the human body’s immune system to better fight prostate cancer.
After: (removed by Weiss and replaced by others at least three times)

If there is a silver lining to this cloud, it’s the following: Wikipedia’s current ruling Arbitration Committee, which has the unenviable task of, among other things, dealing with Weiss and his continued efforts to subvert their authority, is genuinely interested in doing the right thing in this situation. Though you might take that for granted, I can assure you that this has not always been the case. Indeed, at one time, Wikipedia’s ArbCom seemed to go out of its way to enable Weiss’s abuse of this most important social media platform, resulting in (if you can believe it) an even greater number of yet more dramatically skewed and self-serving changes to these articles by Weiss.
Wikipedia has come a long way since then.
Finally, it seems unlikely that Portfolio.com, where he authors a business column, is aware of Gary Weiss’s actions. They would probably appreciate knowing more. If you agree, consider sending a brief and informative note to Condé Nast Publications Group President David Carey: David_Carey@condenast.com.
Postscript: If you’re at all unclear on why you should be bothered that DTCC seems to have hired former journalist Gary Weiss to cover-up the crime of illegal of naked short selling, I strongly suggest you check out Lila Rajiva’s recent post on the composition of that company’s board of directors.
_____________________
And now, for what long-time readers of DeepCapture.com will recognize as my favorite part of writing about Gary Weiss: a little running up of the score (piling on with additional insights that don’t necessarily make the case on their own, but certainly make the case much more entertaining).
After discovering the Wikipedia edit placing Gary Weiss within the Fort Knox-like DTCC (see this for the explanation, if you didn’t already follow the link above), I sent DTCC spokesman Stuart Z. Goldstein the following email:
From: Judd Bagley
To:
Stuart Goldstein
Sent:
Wed, 31 Jan 2007 10:24 PM
Subject:
media inquiry
Mr. Goldstein,
Yesterday I received some information suggesting Gary Weiss either is or has been hired or retained by the DTCC (or DTC or NSCC). Can you confirm the existence of a professional relationship between Gary Weiss and your organization?
More than two days passed with no response. Finally, I received the following:
From: Stuart Goldstein
To: Judd Bagley
Date: Fri, Feb 2, 2007 at 12:00 PM
Subject: your inquiry
*** Body Not Included ***
That’s right…the body of the email read only “*** Body Not Included ***”
With that, I responded:
From: Judd Bagley
To: Stuart Goldstein
Date: Fri, Feb 2, 2007 at 1:20 PM
Subject: Re: your inquiry
Mr. Goldstein,
Thanks for your reply, though the body appears to be missing…may I trouble
you to re-send your reply?
Goldstein’s record-breaking response (especially considering his earlier reply took two days to arrive) hit my inbox three minutes later:
From: Stuart Goldstein
To: Judd Bagley
Date: Fri, Feb 2, 2007 at 1:23 PM
Subject: Re: your inquiry
My response to your question is no.
On the surface, this would seem to be Goldstein denying a relationship between DTCC and Weiss. The problem is, I didn’t ask a yes or no question. I asked him to confirm something specific, to which he responded “no.” The answer didn’t fit.
I twice asked Goldstein to clarify his response, and was twice ignored.
That’s when I realized I’d been played.
Goldstein’s quick reply of “My response to your question is no” was probably calculated beforehand as his response to my inevitable request that he re-send the reply which read only “*** Body Not Included ***”.
He got me.
Here’s how this applies to Weiss.
Weiss’s most recently-banned Wikipedia sockpuppet, known as JohnnyB256, generally began to arouse suspicion in September, following a series of extremely slanted edits to the Wikipedia article on DTCC. At that time, multiple Wikipedia editors asked JohnnyB256 if he had a relationship with Gary Weiss. JohnnyB256 avoided answering the question (other than to dismiss it as “unmitigated gall”) until a senior Wikipedia administrator known as Lar inserted himself into the conversation to say he felt it was a “reasonable question.”
JohnnyB256 then responded, in a way that was unambiguously directed to Lar alone, saying, “The answer to your question is ‘no’.”
Only problem is, Lar was the one person who never asked him the question. Unfortunately, nobody picked up on this serpentine strategy at the time, allowing JohnnyB256 to claim he’d already answered the question of a link to Weiss when it came up from time to time.
Anybody else suspect Weiss and the DTCC are using the same playbook?
http://www.deepcapture.com/yet-another-n...laid-bare/
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
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