An FBI sting brought down a Russian spy cell that was trying crash the stock market. That might sound like the plot of a new espionage thriller, but it's not. The events played out in real life in New York City recently, not on the silver screen.
Three Russian spies were trying to learn more about high-frequency trading systems, so they could disrupt the systems and cause major problems on Wall Street. Those trading systems use computers and algorithms to trade lots of stocks quickly and were partially to blame for the stock market Flash Crash in 2010.
During the Flash Crash the Dow Jones lost 1,000 points within minutes only to bounce back right away, sparking fears that automated or ‘robot’ trading could be vulnerable to hackers or terrorists.
Apparently, financial espionage isn't as exciting as it sounds. The FBI has recordings of the men complaining that their lives aren't more like a James Bond movie. They were caught wishing that they could pretend to be someone else, or at least hoping to travel with a different passport.