Monday, April 02, 2007

Overstock.com Finds a 10-Year-Old


Overstock.com's resident stalker Judd Bagley has found the ten-year-old he needed to identify his latest victim, who dared to criticize his SEC-investigated company and its inept boss, Patrick Byrne.

The latest human being to be attacked by this nightcrawler on Overstock's antisocialmedia.net corporate smear site, is -- surprise surprise -- Yolanda Holtzee, a Washington money manager who is one of the top amateur stock sleuths in the country.

I say "surprise surprise" because Holtzee is so "secretive" that she was the subject of a page-one article in the Wall Street Journal last April.

That article is only available for subscribers, but here is a link to a reprint in the Seattle Times. It describes her exploits in tackling corporate shareholder-rapists like Krispy Kreme.

Holtzee, a self-styled Internet investigator in sweat pants, focuses on exposing out-of-bounds behavior and catching bad guys. And after pointing regulators in the right direction more than once, Holtzee has achieved two things every gadfly craves: attention from those she targets — and action.

"I think people take her seriously because she has good instincts and actually produces cases," says former senior SEC official Ari Gabinet, now with the Vanguard Group, the fund-management giant. "If I could have hired her, we would have had an endless stream of cases."

Holtzee swaps notes with regulators, including the enforcement chiefs at both the SEC and another Wall Street regulator, the National Association of Securities Dealers, according to people familiar with the matter.

The SEC and NASD review her e-mails. Earlier this year, when Mary Schapiro was appointed to head the NASD, the Wall Street self-regulatory group gave Holtzee an early heads-up, according to people familiar with the matter. She has been called by the SEC to testify in Washington, D.C.

So it's understandable that Bagley and Byrne are terrified of her. It's also not surprising that Bagley would engage in this cyberstalking not just on his company's official smear site, antisocialmedia, but also on the Investor Village Overstock message board. The latter has become a regular venue for brainless stock-pumping, psychotic rants and Bagley's cyberstalking, with critics subjected to harassment and banning by IV's administrators.

In previous items I've described how IV has censored critics of Overstock, while letting Bagley and Byrne use their website to make vicious personal attacks and stalk critics like Holtzee. It has gone so far as to sic its lawyers on Overstock critic Sam Antar, after the latter complained about being barred from the site.

A new and slimy dimension in the IV saga was brought to my attention by a reader. He notes that IV has apparently promoted its site by spams on both the competing Yahoo message boards and elsewhere.

Note the comments by "cool site" on this Evel Knevel message board, with IP addresses traceable to Vietnam, Brazil, Israel, Ukraine, Germany and New Jersey. Of course, it's possible that this isn't a spam and that IV just happens to have devoted fans saying the same thing on four continents.

And then we have, oh.... maybe fifty dozen or so more spams just from "cool site." Lord (and Ralph Kidd) only knows if IV has other devoted "fans."

Then we have these message board postings on Yahoo, and these
and these
and these
and these
and these
and these

I guess you don't have to be the CEO of a money losing, SEC-investigated company or his paid hatchet man to adore Investor Village.

UPDATE: To make the whole thing even more nauseating, Bagley apparently implanted spyware in his IV post. Creeps will be creeps, I guess. Only one thing is sure -- Bagley will not face repercussions from IV for this latest atrocity.

© 2007 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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Wall Street Versus America was published by Penguin USA on April 6.
Click here for its Amazon.com listing and here for more information on the book, from my web site, gary-weiss.com.

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