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Here’s how not to scam the Walt Disney Company:
A woman is employed as the assistant to Disney’s head of communications.
Her boyfriend says, "Hey, you have access to sensitive information. Let’s use it to become rich!"
She gets him potentially valuable information on Disney’s earnings before that info is made public.
The boyfriend sends anonymous letters to about a dozen hedge funds and investment companies:
"Hey, want to know about Disney’s second-quarter earnings report? I am willing to share this information for a fee. I count on your discretion as you can count on mine," said the boyfriend in his letter.
If you were someone at one of the hedge funds or investment companies and received an anonymous letter like that, what would you do?
You might think:
"Gee, you know, this is either a real anonymous criminal trying to sell me info, or it’s a sting by law enforcement."
Either way, there’s a crime there. So it’s likely that more than one recipient called the Feds.
And the Feds, in the form of FBI agents, contacted the boyfriend.
"We’re hedge-fund traders and we’re interested, how much?" said the Feds.
"I know Disney chief Bob Iger is in serious and advanced negotiations to sell ABC," said the boyfriend.
"How do I know that you are not a fed?" said the Feds.
"I work for Disney, that is all i can tell you. I don’t think we will get caught if we stay discret and careful," texted the boyfriend.
"How much?" said the Feds.
"$15,000," said the boyfriend.
"Okay," said the Feds.
"And I want a 30% cut of any profits…"
"That’s fine," said the Feds.
"Great! Where shall we meet?" said the boyfriend.
They met, in a place set up with concealed audio and video recording equipment, and the boyfriend was recorded taking $15,000.
The boyfriend, Mr. Yonni Sebbag, 30 years old, was arrested.
Instead of going to trial, he made a deal and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud and one count of wire fraud. He faces 27 to 33 months in prison. (Mr Sebbag was ultimately sentenced to 27 months in prison.)
The girlfriend, Ms. Bonnie Hoxi, a former Disney employee, has been charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud. She is currently free on $50,000 bail.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has brought separate civil charges.
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They say that the girlfriend laid claim to some of the potentially illegal profits by sending the boyfriend a picture of a Stella McCartney designer handbag that cost $700.
"Hey, maybe I can get it for u next week. I may be able to buy u 2 of them, lol," texted the boyfriend.
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"In that case, i also love love these shoes," texted the girlfriend.
When the girlfriend was in court, prosecutors wanted her to abstain from drinking, because she’s on probation for DUI.
Judge Patrick Walsh disagreed:
"I’m going to allow her to drink when she’s at home. These are the times when someone needs a drink."
Note: Portions of the dialogue and the particular Stella McCartney products chosen by Ms. Hoxi are completely speculative.
Bonnie Hoxie, 34, eventually pleaded guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud and must serve 300 hours of community service and three years of probation.
Ms. Hoxie said "I think I was blindsided by love and not making the correct choices."
– Ex-Disney employee sentenced to home confinement, Forbes>>
– Yonni Sebbag gets 27 months in prison for Mickey Mouse plan to scam Disney, New York Daily News>>
– Wall Street Journal>>
– New York Daily News>>