A SpaceX engineer who called himself 'MillionaireMike' has pleaded guilty to insider-trading charges. The SEC also accused him of selling 'insider tips' in exchange for bitcoin.

  • SpaceX engineer James Roland Jones pleaded guilty to insider trading on the dark web, the DOJ said Thursday.
  • He called himself “MillionaireMike” and was sold information by an undercover FBI agent.
  • Separately, the SEC has charged him with selling “insider tips” on the dark web in exchange for bitcoin.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A SpaceX engineer has pleaded guilty to charges of insider trading on the dark web, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Thursday.

James Roland Jones, from Hermosa Beach in California, faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison, the DOJ said in a statement.

Under the username “MillionaireMike,” Jones bought and sold personally identifiable information on the dark web, including names, addresses, dates of birth, and social security numbers, between 2016 and 2017, the DOJ said.

The DOJ alleged the 33-year-old used this information to open up fake accounts to conduct trades on material, non-public information (MNPI), data on a company that has not been made public but could impact its share price if shared. 

In April 2017, an undercover FBI employee sold Jones purported insider information about a publicly traded company in the US, the DOJ said.

Jones and another conspirator the DOJ didn’t identify made numerous securities transactions between April 18, 2017 and May 4, 2017, based on the company insider information.

According to the DOJ, Jones told the agent in July 2017 that he had separate non-public information on another US company.

In a separate set of charges, the Securities Exchange Commission on Thursday accused Jones of falsely claiming to have what he called “insider tips” and selling them on the dark web in exchange for bitcoin.

The SEC said in its complaint that Jones’s tips were usually predictions that a stock would go up or down.

Traders then paid Jones for the tips through bitcoin and he made around $27,000, according to the SEC.

The DOJ identified Jones as a SpaceX engineer but didn’t state whether he still worked for the company or did at the time of the crime. The SEC didn’t mention SpaceX in its complaint.

The SEC said this was the first case in which it has brought an enforcement action alleging securities violations on the dark web.

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