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Wall Street traders charged with stealing company code via email

Note to self ... add attachment 'secret-algorithms.zip' ...

Double Facepalm; when one facepalm is not enough.

Three men have been charged with pilfering trade secrets from a Wall Street firm after two of them emailed themselves computer code belonging to their former employer from their company email accounts.

Glen Cressman and Jason Vuu, both former employees of Wall Street firm Flow Traders, were each charged with unlawful duplication of computer related material and unauthorized use of secret scientific material after making off with sensitive documents, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The 26-year-old Vuu was charged with 20 counts of each offense, having emailed himself various materials related to Flow Traders' trading strategies and valuation algorithms over the period from August 2011 to August 2012.

According to Bloomberg, Vuu was aware that he was doing something illicit, because he would sometimes change the file formats of email attachments in an attempt to conceal what it was that he was sending himself.

Vuu, who currently lives in California, allegedly shared the purloined code with a college friend, one Simon Lu of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with the aim of starting a new trading company together. Lu has been charged with three counts each of the same offenses as Vuu.

But although Vuu's lawyer, Jeremy Saland, admits that Vuu did email himself sensitive code without authorization, he maintains that no real damage was done.

"I'm confident that when the DA's office has completed their investigation they will find Flow Traders did not suffer any economic loss," Saland told Bloomberg. "Their algorithms and code weren't taken or used in any malicious way that damaged or compromised their financial security."

Meanwhile, Cressman has been charged with two counts each of the same offenses as Vuu, although unlike Vuu, the complaint does not allege that he did so as part of a plan to start up his own firm.

"Glen Cressman is innocent," the 26-year-old's attorney told Bloomberg. "He was a great employee for Flow Traders. I am confident that when everything is put on the table, the case against him will completely unravel."

If convicted of these fairly minor offenses, each of the three men could face a maximum of four years in prison, but experts say it is likely that they wouldn't have to serve any prison time at all.

The men are next due in court on November 18, when prosecutors will seek a grand jury indictment that would see the case proceed to trial. ®

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