The US government investigation into an 18-year-old's false "citizen journalism" report that Steve Jobs had had a major heart attack has so far found he did it for the craic, according to a report.
The SEC is probing the circumstances surrounding the one-paragraph October 3 story on CNN-owned site iReport because it caused a sudden 5.4 per cent drop in Apple's share price. Authorities are obliged to examine if it was a deliberate attempt to manipulate the market and whether the unnamed teen behind it made money.
Investigators have uncovered no evidence he did, Bloomberg reports.
Here's the 94 artful words that triggered the run on AAPL:
Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. I have an insider who tells me that paramedics were called after Steve claimed to be suffering from severe chest pains and shortness of breath. My source has opted to remain anonymous, but he is quite reliable. I haven't seen anything about this anywhere else yet, and as of right now, I have no further information, so I thought this would be a good place to start. If anyone else has more information, please share it.
The heart attack claim followed several months of speculation about Jobs' health, prompted by his frail appearance at the 3G iPhone launch in June. The ex-fruitarian founder's continued control freakery is seen as crucial to Apple's success by investors and is reckoned to account for a significant percentage of the firm's total value.
Despite Job's apparent weight loss, the false iReport story would probably have sank without a trace, like most user-generated content, had it not been dredged up and republished unchecked by the blog Silicon Alley Insider. The tech stock punditry mill is run by disgraced former Oppenheimer and Merrill Lynch analyst Henry Blodget.
The youth's motives in contributing to the web spam mountain are likely to remain obscure. The real mystery authorities should investigate is why stockbrokers believed what they read on the blog of a man the SEC banned from Wall Street for life after the dotcom crash for, erm, circulating false information about tech companies. ®