Wow. CEO Patrick Byrne is an unethical freak

February 18, 2009 by  

After originally disliking the premise of Martin Eisenstadt and fighting to get it realized by all as a hoax, I slowly started to understand and even appreciate their work. I kept outing them as frauds, of course, but I saw the game they were playing with the media and was puzzled at the media’s acceptance of said “Eisenstadt.”

Of course, it’s one thing when a couple filmmakers hoax a gullible media with meaningless made-up factoids. It seems as though it would be another thing altogether when a publicly traded company would go through an amazing amount of hoaxing and “astroturfing” to bolster it’s CEO’s numerous lawsuits.

But such is the world of and it’s CEO Patrick Byrne. Because Byrne understands the Internet, and has given himself a voice using corrupt or invented characters.

But first, let me start at the beginning. Or at least the beginning for me, as others have already done remarkable footwork on the weirdness.

It started for me with an e-mail from fellow journalist Diane Tucker at the Huffington Post, telling me she’d received a comment to her recent blog from one “Shawn Brandom.” And that Brandom didn’t appear to be who he said he was.

Which brings us to the circus. A while back, Byrne hired former journalist Mark Mitchell to spread his propaganda. Along the way, Byrnes started a Web site called Deep Capture. As an aside, won a Weblog award for “Best Business Blog” of 2008. Deep capture focuses on “Naked Short Selling” which is Byrne’s cause du jour.

From Wikipedia:

The company has received attention stemming from CEO Patrick Byrne’s battle against alleged naked short selling of his company’s shares. Beginning in 2005, Byrne has contended that a number of companies, including, have been the targets of this practice, which involves selling a stock short but without the usual step of initially borrowing or locating the shares. Byrne alleges that the practice circumvents safeguards of conventional shorting, and has been used in large schemes devised to profit from driving down the prices of companies’ shares, in many cases leading to these companies’ failure. With Overstock, Byrne contends that the company’s longstanding appearance on the Regulation SHO Threshold Security list, an SEC-mandated list showing companies with a high number of “fails to deliver,” along with high trading volumes that sometimes surpass total quantity of the company’s stock, establish that it has been targeted by this practice. As of December 26, 2007, there were 4.92 million shares sold short, which is 30.2% of float.

Byrne’s campaign has been controversial, including criticism in the financial press that Byrne is seeking to divert attention from Overstock’s share price declines and failure to turn a profit.[20] New York Times columnist Joseph Nocera has said in 2006 that, “Except for a few fellow-traveling Web sites, where Mr. Byrne is viewed as a heroic figure, most people who understand the issue or have looked into it think it’s pretty bogus.”[21] Others have suggested that the problem is real, but that the SEC acts to prevent it and that it does not happen on any scale such as Byrne suggests. SEC Chairman Christopher Cox called abusive naked short selling “a fraud that the commission is bound to prevent and to punish.”

So here’s where we are at so far: Patrick Byrnes, CEO of is on a campaign to prove his company was hurt by others practicing “Naked Short selling.” He created a Web site and hired an ex-journalist to do his bidding, while staying at the forefront of the fight himself, as this slideshow called “Deep Capture The Movie: How Wall Street Criminals hijacked the institutions that are supposed to be protecting us from them” attests.

But that’s not the end for Byrnes, who also had’s director of social media Judd Bagley start and run a Web site called It seems as though has one objective – to defame Conde Naste Portfolio contributing Editor Gary Weiss. Gary Weiss’s crime – exposing the bizarre SOP of

Bagley has admitted that he ran, but has tried to play it off as some personal venture, not an arm of It’s a ruse no one is really falling for.

So, thus far, Byrne – the CEO of a publicly traded company – has hired a writer and created a Web site to push his cause. He has also had his company’s director of social media create another Web site to slam his critics.

Which, I suppose, brings us to Shawn Patrick Brandom

Shawn Brandom

Brandom showed up at Tucker’s blog after just signing up at Huffpo. His comment was nothing more than a cut-and-paste of Mitchell’s work. But Brandom has posted on the U.S. SEC Web site several times:

March 2008

are you through raping the savings and retirenmnet portfolios of american citizens yet?
it is time to stop messing around and actually do your jobs no more delays no more comment periods.
you know what the problem is you know who the problem makers are
you know what to do.
fix the dad gum problem and do it today.
thanks to your inaction and lack of resonable enforcement
my family is in bankruptcy.
i bought shares in a company and when it made money i was told i cannot sell it because i do not own the shares that i bought.
thanks to you and your blind eye to justice i lost over 150,000.00 dollars
i know chump change to the likes of you but it was all i had.
i fully expect you to send me a check in the amount of at least 20 million no less.
you have caused us so much harm and destroyed our lives.
i am in therapy due to this horrific crime committed upon my family.
i am ashamed to think you call yourselves an enforcement agency.
your enforcement measures amount to the cost of doing business on wall street.
no more
we the people are pissed off
you got that?
i want my money and then some.

Also in March of 2008, he posted this at the SEC Web site:

In a market like today, any financial is subject to tremendous volatility. Remember bigger players can call a ‘desk’, ie market maker center, and get a look at where you are. They’ll tell you, ‘seller of 20,000 right above here’, or, ‘stops are just below the lows of the day”, things like that. So, it’s very easy, like to day to start rumors questioning the solvency of MF Global, which had a big problem last week. You get short, start the rumor, and then beat the hell out of the bid because:

1: There is no uptick rule. You can short into the bid with no restriction
2: Most of the time, the locates are fake, so, you can sell whatever size you want.

Now, this makes it easy for a small trader to get my shorts off – let me rephrase that so ChaChi doesn’t get the wrong idea – it’s very easy for me to trade on the short side. But these operators know if they break particular price points, the stocks absolutely crater. If you go back to the previous post, look at the charts, you’ll see what I mean. It’s a license to steal, and they do.

It is almost impossible for a little guy to ‘buy and hold’ and the pundits say. They have scammed the system to the point where it’s no place for an honest man. I winced when Patrick first said it, but he’s right. This is an extremlely difficult environment.

We need to ask two questions. Why did the SEC allow this rule to be repealed, and still allow naked shorting. and 2. Why do they not immediately repeal it and save the markets from this volatility?

I find myself trading more into these huge gaps looking for a few points because I have to protect myself. The SEC is a total disgrace, and at the least, they shouldn’t be allowed to use the “Investors’ Advocate” slogan.

The above passage was also posted at Investor Village by user “Lenofus.” Lenofus is a consistent champion of Byrnes, as you can see in his comments here, here, here, and here.

FYI: The final link goes to a site called:, which is run by one Dave Patch. Patch was referred to as a “message board troll” by Sam E. Antar, who was convicted of fraud and now writes about potential white-collar crimes from his own perspective. Antar also called one Evran Karpak a message board troll, but that changed once Byrnes flat-out hired him.

But let’s get back to Brandom. At Brandom’s page at “Patriot’s for America” it seems he has but three interests: The Mark Mitchell Report, terrorists, and Obama Citizenship theories. Mostly, however, he only deigns to be a comment troll for Byrnes.

Brandom is mentioned by Weis here:

DeSilver, who tells me that has never actually written on the subject, made the mistake of responding to an email from a seemingly rational naked shorting conspiracist who gave his name as “Shawn Brandom.” DeSilver made the mistake of disagreeing with Brandom, who retaliated by posting his email and his email address with this message to his fellow loons: “GIVE HIM SOME GRIEF!!!!!!”

Perhaps not shockingly, Brandom has occasionally let his conservative stripes show, as he did here:

the actions of the liberal left have to be stopped their voices need to be drowned out by the strong voices of thos of us who love our country. we patriotic americans will no longer stand for this irresponsible display of treason. it will be brought to justice. these liberals will face the fire. and by GOD i will lead the charge.

Looking into a connection between Brandom and Byrnes didn’t shake out anything conclusive. Both are mid-40s (Brandom born in 1960, Byrnes in 1962). Both are seriously conservative (Byrnes even works at Milton Friedman organization). Both write mainly about the SEC conspiracy. As of this point, it’s safe to say that Brandom is not actually Byrne or Mitchell, or anyone other than himself. That he may be working at the behest of Byrne is still possible.

(Update Note: Byrnes has been accused of being Brandom in the past, however. And while his e-mail name is interestingly “patrickpt10,” two big things go against the theory – 1) I found that he was licensed to be married, and 2) He’s posted his phone number on comments numerous times.)

Nonetheless, even the N.Y. Times has reported that Byrne has been accused of sockpuppeting:

Patrick M. Byrne, founder and chief executive of the beleaguered online retailer, has for years been accused of anonymously resorting to the Internet to do battle with his company’s critics. In an interview, Mr. Byrne said that he never hides his true identity and always signs his name when he posts under his online handle, “Hannibal” (the Carthaginian conqueror, not the celluloid serial killer).

Mr. Byrne said he uses online forums to convey what he has learned about the hidden agendas of his critics. “Nothing about being a public figure compels one to surrender one’s First Amendment rights,” he said.

Basically, Byrne is likely not Brandom. But he has sockpuppetry on his record, more than likely.

Byrne has been busy in the business pages of late, announcing a $20 million debt repurchasing plan, plunking down $3 million on a Super Bowl ad, redid its auction homepage, and announcing a $1 million profit for the final quarter of 2008 (which is disputed by Antar).

Overstock’s (disputed) profit (which Byrne had claimed would be $10 million earlier in the year), would be its first profit since Byrne took the reins of the company in 1999. Byrne has seen tremendous turnover of his team in the last few years, several (including his billionaire father) who left due to Byrne’s manic short-selling campaign.

Not being an economist, I won’t even begin to attempt to give an opinion on Byrne’s naked short-selling campaign. But even without that, I can definitely report that there is just a non-stop foul stench emanating from and Byrne.

Byrne – a school voucher radical and former lobbyist – had this to say while fighting for vouchers in Utah:

Byrne was subpoena’d by the SEC in 2006, but took a year to respond, both to the court and his board.

“Right now, 40 percent of Utah minorities are not graduating from high school. You may as well burn those kids. That’s the end of their life. That’s the end of their ability to achieve in this society if they do not get a high school education. You might as, just throw the kids away.”

Byrne goes on wild rants at his own Web site.’s stock has plummeted, while Byrne diverts attention.

Byrne uses several different people to voice the same exact message at comment sections of all types of blogs. Some of these people are fond of using anti-Semitic attacks(PDF), like Edward Manfredonia.

Others that help Byrnes include Bob O’Brien of “The Sanity Check.” And while “The Sanity Check” doesn’t appear to focus on real mental-health issues, that’s cool. Because Bob O’Brien doesn’t really exist, and may actually be one James Dale Davidson, a far-right winger who appears to have made a career on being a complete piece of crap.

Byrne and his cast of hooligans attack, sue, or otherwise intimidate those who dare write about them. will gladly sell video games all about rape.

In Conclusion

Again, I’m no economist, but let me just say this: If you have stock, bail. Even if you’re selling at a loss, it’s better than selling at $0, which really seems to be where this is all heading.

Byrne is a buffoon. A very rich, well-connected buffoon. His tactics are right out of the GOP playbook – attack, attack, attack. And the board of directors – which apparently doesn’t even bother reading its own code of ethics – is seemingly far too toothless to do anything about Byrne’s buffoonery.

From Shawn Brandom to Lenofus to Dave Patch, to Bob O’Brien to Edward Manfredonia, to Patrick Byrne, is apparently ruled by a modern version of Ed Wood’s film troop. They are a very stupid bunch who don’t seem to have a focus on reality whatsoever. And like Ed Wood, they are doomed to inglorious failure.

Seriously, leaving everything else out, look at it like this: The CEO of a publicly traded company has created several Web sites and hired several people to attack his enemies and sockpuppet at blog comment sections. All the while producing what seems like thousands of words daily about short-selling.

Seriously, dump that stock.

For more on and Patrick Byrne, take a look at some of Gary Weiss’s work.



20 Responses to “Wow. CEO Patrick Byrne is an unethical freak”

  1. lenofus on February 18th, 2009 12:43 pm

    As a man who deeply cares for the great and righteous Dr. Patrick Michael Byrne, I must protest this affront on our character. But, first let me say how flattered I am to be included on this list. It is actually the first time I have ever been linked to the work put forth and I feel I have been significantly slighted in that area. Thank You. My wife will be thrilled. Dr. Byrne has asked me to lay down my life for his cause, and I have done so! I love the good work this beautiful human, Dr. Patrick Michael Byrne, has done. Each day I breath the clean air of corrected living, I bless his parents for bringing such a kind and devoted man to my rescue. You may be a better person today for all that we have done. Yes ..we. It is a hard war fought by sturdy and brave men. If I could ask one thing to change in this unfair world it would be the view of our heroic leader. He is a man among boys. He teaches us and holds us close. He protects us from the evil of the miscreants. He is our light, our life.

  2. AntiSocialMedia on February 18th, 2009 2:56 pm

    May I offer some much-needed context?

    By the way, this presentation has been viewed three thousand times over the past three days.

  3. Gary Weiss Blog on February 18th, 2009 3:07 pm

    Patrick Byrne’s Smear Campaign Backfires…

    One of the techniques of the loony-tunes CEO of, Patrick Byrne, in advancing his shrill and nonsensical Wall Street conspiracy theories is to dispatch across the Internet an army of paid hirelings led by a former Florida Republican wing…..

  4. Dale on February 18th, 2009 4:45 pm

    Good Lord. Now the paddy-whacko attacks begin here!! Can the likes of other NSS Crazies, like Patch, Faulk and Burrell, be far behind??

    Next the CMKX Loons will crawl out of their holes claiming Settlement Checks from the SEC (or DTTC, or Brokers, or from Flying Witches) will arrive soon (or next Tuesday, or Friday, or well soon!)

    Richard Altomare, the Poster Child for failed NSS Ranters (after serving months in Jail in Manhattan for Contempt over his Fraud Judgment) says: “See, I told ya! And they would NOT let me sell Michael Jackson’s Crusties at Auction! Is there no Justice?”

    Bring on the Clowns…

  5. Hamilcar Barca on February 18th, 2009 6:30 pm

    I think that post up there at the top, by that guy Lenofus, is kind of creeping me out. It just sounds like he really wants to tell us something and he is just not allowed to do so. So, I’ll take a liberty and ask a question: Mr. Lenofus: Sure, it’s a proud day when you can claim some form of victory over your perceived evil-doers. But Son, you need to find other outlets then that guy Byrne. Maybe you need to have a sit down with a friend or a parent and ask them how they view you. Ask them why they feel the way they do about you. Because, if you are anything like that post … you are one very weird dude. You need a break.

    Mr. Wulfrum, I enjoyed reading this article about this web campaign. But, I have a question: isn’t this what the internet is suppose to be all about? Is not the internet really just a stream of confused hateful consciousness? Is it not really just an extension of our hatred of others? The perfect vehicle to fulfill our desire to accuse and defile, in an anonymous fashion, another mans reputation?

  6. Blah on February 18th, 2009 7:08 pm

    @antisocialmedia: got to give Judd credit for persistence. He gets attacked on astroturfing and smears and he comes back with astroturfing and smears. I guess you would do that too if it was your day job.

    @the uninitiated: Dale is referring to the nonprofit penny stocks that Judd shills for by promoting the NSS cause for Wacky Patty. There’s CMKX, which is a worthless mining company that successfully deluding its thousands of shareholders that their problem was not a bad company but “naked short selling.” Altomare was jailed for ripping off investors in his company. He is another NSS complainer.

  7. Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO and a convicted felon) on February 18th, 2009 7:21 pm

    Patrick Byrne is the lying king of corporate America. Patrick Byrne’s serial lies about’s financial performance have been documented to date back almost ten years, when he claimed that was profitable, when in fact the company was not profitable at all.

    Link here:

    Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO and a convicted felon

  8. Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO and a convicted felon) on February 18th, 2009 10:39 pm

    Hamilcar Barca:

    You wrote, “I think that post up there at the top, by that guy Lenofus, is kind of creeping me out.”

    Here is what Lenofus said about Patrick Byrne in a comment on another blog:

    “Patrick Byrne is a Man God and his image should be cast in Gold and displayed in the offices of the SEC. You imps are not worthy of his presence as he enlightens only those who believe.”

    Lenofus is not only creepy, he is INSAAAAANE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. dgun on February 19th, 2009 5:58 am

    Very interesting reading Bill and a good job summarizing all this nonsense.
    I only have one comment, really, and this is that I have never seen any real reason for the existence of Probably the reason their stock price is so low, is that they suck. They don’t have a very good selection to select from and their prices are too high. There is really no benefit from purchasing at compared to purchasing from anyone else.

    Well I guess I have more than one comment. The top of corporate America is apparently slap full of talentless blowhard wannabes that get to where they are by force of personality (in other words they’re sociopathic assholes who can smooze all the right people and at the same time crush all the right people) and have absolutely nothing of real value to contribute to anything. They build a house of cards and keep it standing for years with the power of ‘assholery’.

    It is really impressive what the power of ‘assholery’ can do, but is it something you want to build a company on?

  10. Dale on February 19th, 2009 7:48 am

    lenofus blathers on…


    Author: Lenofus send pm · add member to favs · ignore · recommend

    view thread, thread start In response to msg 31540 by tamoshanter

    Recs: 3 Re: Wow. CEO Patrick Byrne is an unethical freak
    Totally unfunny, uninspired……….yawn. And weiss. You guys need to be running the drum press at Leavenworth. I’m sure you’ll love spinning your yellow-matter custard to true psychopaths. You may even like it and do a Richard Speck where you can use estrogen to enhance body parts for those attracted to your charms.

    But really. You’re like dinner guests who won’t go home. You lost. You’re beat, washed up. The people hate you. Like they hate crooked brokerage firms, and politicians who throw money away, and do the dirty work of crooked money changers. You won’t like what’s coming. Why not slither away in the night? Get a new identity. Maybe you can get a job at some midwestern motel complex. Clapboard siding, neon light right outside your window flashing “vacanc_”, “vacanc_”………flashing on and off. Blowup doll behind the curtain in the lobby for those long nights when you’re on duty.. Chairs covered in vinyl, dim lighting. Always wondering when we’re going to come and get you. It’ll be great.

    This isn’t even fun anymore. You’re just a pathetic never was, who aspired to who knows what, for reasons no one will ever know, or even care about. Have a good evening.

  11. nailed it on February 19th, 2009 7:50 am

    That’s classic dgun:

    “The top of corporate America is apparently slap full of talentless blowhard wannabes that get to where they are by force of personality (in other words they’re sociopathic assholes who can smooze all the right people and at the same time crush all the right people) and have absolutely nothing of real value to contribute to anything. They build a house of cards and keep it standing for years with the power of ‘assholery’.”

  12. Dale on February 19th, 2009 7:55 am

    oops. Forgot this one which is so prophetic. He must follow OSTK!!!

    Once someone criticizes Paddy or the Paddy-Whackers, the insane attacks begin. And being accused of being connected to the mob is par for the course with these NSS Delusioners!

    They are all nucking futs! But dangerous…

    Author: osollo send pm · add member to favs · ignore · recommend

    view thread, thread start In response to msg 31540 by tamoshanter

    Recs: 0 Re: Wow. CEO Patrick Byrne is an unethical freak
    Is anybody running a wager pool on how long it takes before Wolfram is linked to the mob?


  13. Blah on February 19th, 2009 10:21 am

    History repeats. Byrne was a backer of the Swiftboaters against Kerry back in 04

  14. Blah on February 19th, 2009 2:32 pm

    Here’s how the Baloney Brigade swarmed over Mother Jones when it ran a brief piece debunking the naked shorting conspiracy creeps:

    86 comments. Mother Jones is now part of the conspiracy.

  15. johnl on February 19th, 2009 9:40 pm

    William the common belief is that Bob Obrien is an Irvine based used medical equipment salesman Phil Saunders. The evidence for this is very strong because Patrick Byrne once claimed not to know who Bobo is, and also to suspect that Bobo not Phil. Translated from Byrnespeak to English that means he knows Bobo is Phil. The idea that Bobo is James Dale Davidson is the idea of one person, Tony Royals, who had the misfortune to invest in a Davidson company.

  16. Dale on February 20th, 2009 12:22 pm
  17. Dave on February 28th, 2009 3:36 pm

    You’ve just scratched the surface in your very good article.

    In addition to Patrick Byrne the inept CEO, and Patrick Byrne and Conspiracymonger, and Patrick Byrne the Narcissist/Character Assassin, there’s a pose he assumes every now and then, which is Patrick Byrne the Thinker, advancing right wing causes.

    So we have Patrick Byrne the Educational Thinker, pushing what has been called the “65% Deception.”

    Here is a lifelong committed bachelor, who grew up attending private schools paid for by his billionaire father, posing as an expert in education.

    But Byrne is not being accepted by the political right because he is too much of a loon:

    “Though no one will say so publicly, the word is that Utah officials now feel they were snookered by the Overstock C.E.O. And that his behavior at that meeting further damaged his credibility. And that, even though he is one of the state’s largest political donors, he is going to have a hard time ever getting the Legislature to take him seriously again.”

  18. Chance on March 9th, 2009 12:54 pm

    You have your story all wrong. Dr. Patrick Byrne, as CEO of, had a front seat to a show that, at its heart, is a long
    list of conspirators: from the SEC, to the NY Politicians, to members of
    Congress, to Eliot Spitzer, and his “pick and choose” style of prosecution;
    to the financial journalists themselves, none more culpable than Jim Cramer himself.

    Talk about manipulation of stocks!!!!! Oh my God!!! May there be plenty of indictments to go around. The deception, the lies, the corruption, is all out in the open, and could not be any better exemplified by Markopolous’s testimony before Congress, concerning Madoff and his Ponzi Scheme.

    Wo to suggest there is nothing to this is absurd. When the former Chairman of Nasdaq is caught red-handed with his hand in a 50 Billion dollar cookie jar, how difficult is it to imagine crooked Journalists writing crooked articles, with information from crooked hedge fund managers, who influence crooked stock analysts????

    And none of it has made the Mainstream Press? As far as I’m concerned,
    Barrons, CNBC, Fortune Magazine, the NY Times, and Businessweek all
    are culpable.

    There’s 3 kinds of lies: Outright Lies, Lying by ommission, and Statistics, and everyone named above, et. al, should all come before a Grand Jury.
    I have no doubt in my mind, there will be indictments flying by Truth Doves, dropping them on windows of the indicted, with a splat felt similar
    by those whose portfolios were destroyed by all you perps.

  19. William K. Wolfrum Chronicles » Blog Archive » CEO Patrick Byrne’s attacks on financial journalists are false on March 11th, 2009 6:27 am

    [...] It is no secret whatsoever that Byrne uses new media to attack and/or confront any that would question him (this reporter speaks from experience – a recent post regarding Overstock was immediately responded to by two of Byrne’s missionaries – Lenofus and Bagley). [...]

  20. harveydawabbitt on June 12th, 2009 10:50 am

    mr wolfrum, i am the shawn brandom you say that i misrepresented my self.

    “It started for me with an e-mail from fellow journalist Diane Tucker at the Huffington Post, telling me she’d received a comment to her recent blog from one “Shawn Brandom.” And that Brandom didn’t appear to be who he said he was.”

    my post at huffington post was merely to help our cause and to get mark’s articles into as many hands as possible.

    yes i happen to believe patrick byrne is right. in most every thing he says.
    i joined the fight when i had my own experience with my brokers.(wells trade investments/wells fargo) long story short…
    i bought stock the stock made money i went to sell my stock my broker said i didnt own that stock,therefore i cant sell what i dont own. yes i have all the documents from wells trade that documents my purchase.
    for your informtion i am just a regular fella. i invested with the hope that i could pay off my home. i am no one special. when my broker stole my investment i took a huge hit. just like you if someone stole from you i am sure you would pursue the culprit.

    want to say hey?

    have a good day.

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