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FBI vows to catch insider traders on Facebook and Skype

Sites may be increasingly used for relevant conversations

The FBI has said it is closely watching social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, as well as the Skype chat service, in order to catch insider traders.

As it launched a campaign fronted by actor Michael Douglas - who famously played ruthless businessman Gordon Gekko in the 'Wall Street' films - the FBI said it was stepping up Operation Perfect Hedge investigations, which are designed to catch hedge funds and associates involved in illegal trading.

"We will go to whatever lengths we have to, to keep up with changes in technology," said Richard Jacobs, an FBI special agent, yesterday.

The FBI has been closely examining social media and instant messaging sites in order to collect evidence.

This is becoming an increasingly widely used tactic, because the FBI is now known to have used recorded phone calls - such as in the case against Raj Rajaratnam, who was convicted of insider trading last year. The recording of phone calls could prompt insider traders to use alternative channels of communication, observers have noted.

The FBI last month announced that it planned to develop an application that can track the public's posts to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, in order to aid how it predicts and reacts to criminal behaviour, including public disorder and terrorism. Under the plans, it would search keywords of interest and agents would be alerted if the searches come up with evidence of "breaking events, incidents, and emerging threats".

Agents would have the ability to display any information on a map, and they could then add other layers of information, including past incidents and locations of important buildings like embassies and military installations.

See the Michael Douglas video for the FBI here


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