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Scam Dogs and Mo-Mo Mamas: Inside the Wild

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Scam Dogs and Mo-Mo Mamas: Inside the Wild and Woolly World of Internet Stock Trading
by John R. Emshwiller, Emshwiller R. John

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Publisher: HarperBusiness; 1st edition (May 16, 2000)
ASIN: 0060196203
Average Customer Review: Based on 10 reviews. Write a review.


Would you take a stock tip from a guy named Tokyo Joe? How about one from Big Dog? If so, you should read this book. If not, you will probably find Scam Dogs and Mo-Mo Mamas an entertaining curiosity about the type of person you're glad you're not. Tokyo Joe and Big Dog are two of the main characters in Scam Dogs. They post messages on Internet stock discussion boards, touting stocks most of us have never heard of. When these guys say "Buy," thousands of people do. The problem for those thousands is the gurus may have done all their own buying before recommending a stock to others and start selling as soon as their followers start buying. At least that's what the Securities and Exchange Commission accused Tokyo Joe of doing when it filed a civil complaint against him in January 2000. (This practice, according to the helpful glossary at the back of the book, is called scalping.) Emshwiller is a reporter for The Wall Street Journal who has covered numerous frauds and swindles--in fact the book started as a Journal article about the colorful Tokyo Joe (How colorful? He usually trades naked in his Manhattan apartment, sitting in the lotus position while staring at multiple computer screens.) Scam Dogs will be most useful to those contemplating a career in day trading. However, when you see how many ways there are to get fleeced, you may decide it's a more remunerative not to become a sheep. --Lou Schuler

From Publishers Weekly
This rogues' gallery of Internet stock investors, scam artists and tipsters sheds fascinating light on an unseemly universe powered by caffeine, nicotine and the sweet scent of profits. Emshwiller, who covers Internet trading for the Wall Street Journal, trails a cast of often bizarre characters, such as Joe Park, the legendary trading guru who launched the popular stock-discussion site Tokyo Joe's Caf?, who submits to an interview sitting lotus-like in front of his computer screens while... read more

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful:

A Likely Classic, May 30, 2000
Reviewer: A reader
I wasn't sure what to expect on picking up a book with the title "Scam Dogs and Mo-Mo Mamas," maybe me-too Tom Wolfe or a study of dancing soccer Moms. What I encountered on reading is a work I suspect will become classic study of a turning point in investment history and regulation.

Imagine, if you will, a bright-eyed diarist among the tulip traders of 17th century Holland, a long-lived Samuel Pepys privy to the shenanigans of the South Sea Bubble, or a wit among the Wall Street brokerages as mining stocks soared and crashed in the 1890's. That's the role Emshwiller fills here with the story of some of the most influential (and colorful) characters to the new Internet trading world.

Scam Dogs isn't an all-encompassing or definitive tale of the boom market of the 1990's--that has yet to be written. It isn't about billions sloshing in the Ciscos, Intels, and Microsofts or the fortunes flushed down to cockamamy dot.coms. It's brilliant marginalia, a richly-described world of trade in stocks that are often meaningless at best or fraudulent at worst by figures far beyond the core of Wall Street. These are "marginal men" (and women) who first grabbed and understood the trading implications of the Internet precisely because they lacked the levers that established investment dealers possessed. These were the elves dancing at the leading edge, and, unlike a Salomon or Goldman Sachs swinging weight in a T-bill auction, these tiny folk can individually or in concert can kite or tank only the most rinky-dink of stocks. Such is often the unseemly stuff of revolutions. It is a revolution that government was and still is slow to grasp, as Emshwiller portrays with rich annecdote and history at the SEC. That slow grasp has meaning for us all.

Emshwiller, a writer for the staid Wall Street Journal, seems to have a natural wit and an eye for stories that often doesn't make it beyond a newsroom water cooler. He's unafraid to include himself in the tale, to admit that after a night of drinking with a trader he "wouldn't want to drive the bar stool I was sitting on," and that he was endlessly tempted by the possibility of making money from Internet trading, the very same greed and gull that drove what he was writing about.

There's wonderful material here that lies on the cutting room of too many first-rate financial journalists. Here is not just the first, easily-grasped annecdote, nor the second. But the third and fourth more subtle tale of TokyoMex in full throes of an emotional speech in which he tells fans and fellow traders "don't be schmucks," or of 400-pound fat man "Big Dog" complaining that though he is worth millions on paper at the moment, "I have no structure in my life," or of the protection-minded short-seller's guard dog who "is either having a very tense morning or appears ready to pounce," or of an ltalian Renaissance scholar and prolific poster bragging of "perfect Eric," her cleaning man from Sri Lanka that "I do have to hide my pantyhose after they're washed or he'll iron them, but that's his only fault." Such is daily life in this revolution.

This is wit and insight of a rare sort. To lodge a complaint or so of Scam Dogs: its extracts of sometimes-funny-but-inane emails are occasionally overly protracted; I'd like to have seen earlier some exploration of regulatory disinterest or neglect of Internet touting and trading (Emshwiller does it with great anecdotal familiarity mid-book and then thematically at the end.) And I'd happily have opted for a slightly more elaborate setting of the rocketing market for real-life Intels and Microsofts with real-life balance sheets making possible the fanciful dreams of undiscovered riches from companies most of us--thank heavens--have never heard of. But setting these complaints aside, I found Scam Dogs a brilliant read, a penetrating analysis, and a likely classic look at the era.

Peter Quintle, New York

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

"Pay No Attention to the Stock Tout Behind the Curtain...", May 22, 2000
Reviewer: cube_dweller from Silicon Alley, USA
If you don't know about internet stock "gurus" like Tokyo Joe and Amr "Tony" Elgindy, this is not a bad place to learn (and take warning).

These two colorful hustlers with a knack for self-promotion and disregard for ethics are the most interesting aspect of the book. But there is far too much space devoted to fluff that was barely interesting at the time (Big Dog's single-digit IQ, Janice Shell's recipes...) and is not worth preserving in print.

And there's no mention of any of the good guys, people with integrity who share investment insights online - yes, they are hard to find, but they do exist! I've been a member of Silicon Investor since 1996, I watched most of what is described in this book as it happened, plus a whole lot more. I got a true investment education from what I read there, but none of my "teachers" is mentioned in this book.

And where are the little guys who lose money by buying when Tokyo Mex and Big Dog are selling? I'd like to hear their stories.

There is a moral to the story, Emshwiller does make it clear how the internet is a boon to the sleazy side of the capital markets, and how the SEC is strangely unwilling to devote more than token resources to clean up the dirt. But I doubt many people will hurl this book down in outrage and call their congressman.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

A Good Start Says It All., June 13, 2001
Reviewer: A reader from Grand Junction, CO
John Emshwiller's book Scam Dogs and Mo Mo Mamas is fine effort to introduce the reader to the little known world of internet pumping and dumping, and insider stock manipulation using cyber space as a tool to get it done. But with this book that's as far as it goes. Mr. Emshwiller missed a key part of the story when it comes to the myth that has been built around alleged cyber snoop, and consumer advocate Janice Shell. Mr. Emshwiller never does seem to get the story right about the "Two Ricks," and who Janice Shell and Rick Marchese really are. He seems to take Ms. Shell's word for who she really is, and does little or no real research into the allegations Ms. Shell is really Janice Evans living in Milan, Italy under the alias of Janice Shell without the knowledge of the Italian Government. There is much more to be found on the subject of Janice Shell and her friends, and the reader is encouraged to use this book as only starting point.

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