Texters, e-mailers, Blackberryites, and iPhone users â€“ Beware!Â We can tell what you were doing and when you did it.
First, there is the sad tale of the texting engineer.Â Just seconds before the fatal collision of a Los Angeles commuter train with a freight train, the commuter trainâ€™s engineer sent a text message.Â Engineer Robert Sanchez received a text message at 4:21:03.Â He sent a text message at 4:22:01.Â The crash occurred 22 seconds later.Â Â The The last text was received at the same time the train would have been passing the red warning light that was flashing to indicate the approach of the freight train.Â Sanchez, who was killed in the crash, had received 7 text messages and sent five from the time he began his shift at 3:03 PM.Â Earlier that day, on his morning shift, Sanchez had received 21 text messages and sent 24 (from 6:44 to 8:53 AM).Â The railroad, Metrolink, prohibits its employees from receiving or sending text messages when they are on duty.Â
Then comes the tale of woe of former UBS general counsel, David Aufhauser.Â Mr. Aufhauser has agreed to ante up his entire bonus package for 2008 — $6,000,000 in scratch and a $500,000 fine to boot â€“Â to settle insider trading charges.Â On December 14, 2007, Mr. Aufhauser received an e-mail whilst riding the Amtrak from New York to Washington.Â The e-mail was from the chief risk officer at UBS and described trouble in the auction-rate securities market; trouble that UBS had not yet made public. Â Within minutes, Mr. Aufhauser sent an e-mail to his personal broker that read, â€œI want to get out of A.R.Câ€™s (auction rate certificates) â€“ letâ€™s talk on Monday.â€Â Three days later Mr. Aufhauser told Marten Hoekstra, the head of UBS Wealth Management, at a UBS holiday party that he selling the A.R.C. securities.Â Mr. Hoekstra assumed that Mr. Aufhauser was kidding.Â However, Mr. Aufhauser sold $250,000 of A.R.C.â€™s from December 17-December 27, 2007.Â Combine e-mail with cocktail conversation and sales and you can build a fairly good case of insider trading.Â Mr. Aufhauser neither admitted nor denied guilt, but he is banished from the securities industry nationwide for two years, prohibited from practicing law in New York for two years, and not permitted to be an officer or director of a publicly traded company for two years.Â
Electronic communication is fabulous, but it knows what you said and when.Â Ah, how truth percolates.Â