NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The Twitter bully @laughinpaulryan, who has been tweeting negative information about marijuana companies and investors, has been positively identified as a 36-year-old New Jersey resident named Norman Gates.
“More cyber harassment of companies is happening online today because bullies think they are acting anonymously,” said Ethan Wall, social media attorney, professor and author of Fire Over Facebook (Association of Corporate Counsel, 2013). “What bullies fail to realize is that it’s easy to prove slander on Twitter where someone made false statements about a third party by counting the number of tweets and taking screenshots.”
A private investigator’s report commissioned by Terra Tech found that Gates’s last known address was 222 Arbutus Avenue in Galloway, N.J., which is owned by Melinda Schriver, whose reported sister Alice has been involved in crimes, such as credit card fraud, assault, trespassing, theft, burglary and conspiracy.
Gates allegedly tweeted that a Terra Tech board member was sentenced to jail and wrote disparaging statements about 420 Investor Founder Alan Brochstein, who now has Gates’s twitter handle @LaughinPaulRyan on ignore.
“He does a lot of harassing people who defend Terra Tech on twitter,” said Derek Peterson, CEO with Terra Tech. “When potential investors ‘google’ Terra Tech, they want negative information to appear, which deters them from looking further into the company. His objective is to impact Google rankings for Terra Tech.”
Born May 22, 1978, Gates may have three brothers, and although the report doesn’t note whether Gates himself has been arrested, it does state that his assumed older brother Frank has been accused and convicted of multiple drug offenses and possessing a firearm.
“Savvy investors probably don’t take blind tips from unknown Internet users who could be anyone from a disgruntled employee to a scam artist trying to drive a stock price up or down to turn a profit,” said Aaron Herzberg, a marijuana strategist and investment banker with Electrum Partners.
Behind short selling is the belief that a stock’s price will decline and allow it to be bought back at a lower price to make a profit. It involves the sale of a stock not owned by the seller or that the seller has borrowed.
“Bullies get away with it because usually only large corporations have the money to fund a lawsuit against anonymous parties,” Wall told MainStreet. “We don’t have the appropriate legal remedy to stop the spread of false information through the legal system because technology moves so much faster than the law.
Terra Tech (TRTC) is a marijuana company trading as a penny stock with a farm in Lincoln Park, N.J. The firm was recently declined a dispensary license in Las Vegas after Clark County zoning commissioners allegedly received derogatory emails about Terra Tech from Gates and Sunny Puri, whom Peterson believes is working with both Gates and the Anson Funds.
“Marijuana penny stocks in particular are traded mostly by a specific community that react to information on the Internet whether it’s true or not,” Herzberg told MainStreet. “Unfortunately, many marijuana penny stock investors are swayed by the type of defamation campaign that is being waged against Terra Tech.”
Gates lists an assortment of past and present jobs on his LinkedIn page, including bartender, cable installer, shareholder in Medical Marijuana Inc. and Internet relations consultant with Terra Tech.
However, Terra Tech has never contracted with or employed Gates and has no plans to do so in the future, according to Peterson.
“It’s unfortunate that Terra Tech is the victim of an individual or individuals who are engaging in a campaign of misinformation perhaps in an attempt to engage in short trading and defraud people involved in the markets,” said Herzberg.
Peterson has already begun the process of filing a lawsuit but has not yet subpoenaed Twitter.
“We believe Norman Gates doesn’t have two nickels to rub together,” said Peterson, who owns a dispensary in Oakland called Blüm. “We want him to stop sabotaging our company, but we also plan to recoup our losses from being declined a dispensary license in Nevada, and for that we are going after the people who’ve hired Gates to execute this campaign of tortious interference.”
–Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet