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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lindsay Lohan Shills for Pump-and-Dump Stocks on Twitter

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 at 12:30 PM


To get an idea of just how classy those "sponsored" celebrity tweets can be, take a look at what Lindsay Lohan tweeted last night.

"Have you guys seen food and gas prices lately?" she asked. Yes, we have, Lindsay. Have you?

Then her tweet took a weird turn into economic analysis: "U.S. $ will soon be worthless if the Fed keeps printing money!"

Turns out this tweet was sponsored by an outfit called the National Inflation Association, which sounds like it exists to promote inflation, but is actually a group that sounds a bit like Dale Gribble or a particularly addled Tea Partier warning about the hyperinflation about to consume us all and turn us into Weimar Germany. Behind all that, though, are a couple of stock touters.

Did Lohan know, or care, what she was advertising? It seems unlikely. There was some Twitter backlash, not so much against the sponsor as against the fact that it was an ad that had the wealthy actress complaining about prices. @younghanky wrote: "oh damn I was like Lindsay Lohan don't give a fuck about gas & food prices, she's rich, knew it was an #ad."

To which Lohan responded, less than believably: "I actually do care about gas and food prices, so whether it's an #ad or no, it's important for people to be aware of it." (Despite his earlier hint of disdain, younghanky was very excited to have been mentioned by Lohan on Twitter.)

Plenty of celebs, most of them on the second tier and below, tweet ads, some of them earning five-figure sums per tweet. Kim Kardashian, between promoting her reality show, answering questions about her ass, and denying rumors that she's on an "ice cube diet," writes Twitter ads. Along with those of most other celebrity tweeters such as Charlie Sheen and Lauren Conrad, they tend to be for brands -- electronics, fast food, TV shows. Lohan's tweet on behalf of the NIA seems unusual.

It seems likely that Lohan had no idea what the mysterious group was all about. I imagine she genuinely thought it was a grassroots outfit opposed looking out for consumers' welfare. As it turns out, though, it isn't interested so much in consumer rights -- or even in the fate of the economy -- as it is in selling often-marginal stocks in companies that deal in gold and silver. It's the stuff of Glenn Beck and late-night informercials, and, more to the point, of sleazy stock spammers.

MarketWatch columnist Chuck Jaffe earlier this month described the two guys behind the NIA as "stock jockeys, one of them being a notorious pump-and-dump schemer from the Internet bubble era."

So Lohan is essentially acting as a conduit for a sleazy spam campaign. At least she doesn't have to worry that it will damage her reputation.

Dan Mitchell has written for Fortune, The New York Times, Slate, Wired, National Public Radio, The Chicago Tribune, and many others.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly

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Dan Mitchell


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