The now-you-see-it, now-you-don't nature of ephemeral messaging app Snapchat may be helping Wall Street bankers exchange insider trading tips without detection.
CNBC "Mad Money" host and former hedge fund manager Jim Cramer suggested as much in an interview with Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara at a Discovering Alpha event held Wednesday in New York.
Buzzy 2-year-old Snapchat makes mobile applications for exchanging pictures and videos that vanish within seconds. Adolescents are absolutely enamored with the app because of the fleeting nature of moments that won't come back to haunt them. It turns out that Wall Street types may be craving the same freedom from accountability, albeit for more duplicitous purposes.
Cramer asked Wall Street cop Bharara whether the "bad guys" could get away with sending insider tips through Snapchat.
"It seems like to me that there are fewer tips, or perhaps people are using better technology. My daughter and I Snapchat...It disappears in 3 seconds. Can bad guys Snapchat, 'Go buy Leap Wireless at 3:45 on Friday,' and get away with it because you don't have the technology to stop it?," Cramer asked.
"I don't even know what you're talking about...Have your daughter call me," Bharara replied.
The rather comical exchange speaks to a potential app-savvy disconnect between young bankers and governing agencies. If Wall Street's apparent obsession with Snapchat, as detailed by New York Magazine, is actually about escaping legal detection, then job well done thus far. But the federal prosecutor did caution not to conflate his ignorance around the app to mean that bad-guy bankers will get away with exchanging illegal information.
"Law enforcement is always trying to take the lead and always trying to stay a step ahead of the bad guys. And to the extent that people can figure out ways to communicate, either by IM or Snapchat or some other method, law enforcement needs to think of that," he said, "but nobody should feel safe because they're using a particular method of communication."