'Roaring Kitty' sued for securities fraud over GameStop rise

Keith Gill is accused of misrepresenting himself as an amateur investor and artificially inflating the price of GameStop stock.
Keith Gill is accused of misrepresenting himself as an amateur investor and artificially inflating the price of GameStop stock.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Keith Gill, one of the most influential voices that pushed GameStop on the WallStreetBets Reddit forum, was hit with a lawsuit that accused him of misrepresenting himself as an amateur investor and profiting by artificially inflating the price of the stock.

The proposed class action against Gill, who adopted the online nickname "Roaring Kitty", was filed on Tuesday (Feb 16) in federal court in Massachusetts.

The suit said Gill was actually a licensed securities professional who manipulated the market to profit himself. Gill touted GameStop shares through an extensive social media presence on Youtube, Twitter and Reddit.

"Gill's deceitful and manipulative conduct not only violated numerous industry regulations and rules, but also various securities laws by undermining the integrity of the market for GameStop shares," the suit said.

"He caused enormous losses not only to those who bought option contracts, but also to those who fell for Gill's act and bought GameStop stock during the market frenzy at greatly inflated prices."

The lawsuit said Gill, who has been written about extensively by Bloomberg, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and others, was far from being an amateur stock picker.

Rather, he is a chartered financial analyst who holds multiple broker licences and was previously employed by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance.

The lawsuit also named Mass Mutual and a brokerage subsidiary of the company as defendants, saying they had an obligation to supervise Gill's activities in the market.

"In order to motivate amateur traders, Gill fashioned himself as a kind of Robin Hood and characterised securities professionals as villians," the lawsuit said.

Keith Gill, who goes by Roaring Kitty on social media, helped fuel the frenzy around GameStop. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM ROARING KITTY/YOUTUBE

"Gill, however, is no amateur. For many years, he actively worked as a professional in the investment and financial industries."

The would-be plaintiff representing investors in the case, Christian Iovin of Washington state, sold US$200,000 (S$260,000) worth of call options on GameStop shares when the stock was below US$100. The stock quickly eclipsed US$400 a share, forcing him to buy the calls back at elevated prices.