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05 June, 2018

WIRED Article Details SEC Whistleblower Case Against Facebook’s Wildlife Black Market

In an article published June 5, Stephen M. Kohn, partner at the whistleblower law firm Kohn, Kohn, and Colapinto, discussed the whistleblower complaint he filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on behalf of an anonymous whistleblower(s) alleging that Facebook is being used by wildlife traffickers to promote the sale of illegal products.

The whistleblower lawsuit, filed last October, alleges a massive illegal wildlife trade networks using Facebook. The whistleblower(s) infiltrated these networks to expose the illegal activity occurring on Facebook, gathering pictures and conversations that showed transactions of endangered animal parts.

Kohn told Wired that he doesn’t want to shut down the pages containing these illegal transactions, but instead wants law enforcement agencies to be able to “use search warrants to monitor and investigate the trafficking activity occurring on Facebook”.

Wildlife crime whistleblowers can face risks coming forward. “‘If you’re a whistle-blower outside the US, you may be at extreme risk,’ he explains. ‘If someone contacts me from a foreign country, the more I can talk to them about layers of protection, the higher likelihood they’ll become a source.’”

However, whistleblowers are incentivized to come forward when reward laws were in place. SEC whistleblowers who have original information that lead to monetary sanctions of $1 million or more, could be eligible for a monetary award of between 10 percent and 30 percent of the sanctions collected. “‘If they fine those people and sanction them, guess who can get 10 to 30 percent of all these sanctions?’ Kohn asks me with a giddy tone. ‘My whistle-blowers!’”


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