Finance

‘If I had made the right trade I would have been retired now’ — a Reddit user who exploited the Robinhood ‘infinite money’ glitch says he would do it again

Errol Flynn Robin HoodWarner Bros. Pictures

  • A Reddit user who exploited Robinhood’s “infinite money” glitch told Business Insider he found it “exhilarating,” he was “well aware of the risks,” and he would do it again if he could, only faster.
  • Tomatotowers, who learned about the bug on the WallStreetBets subreddit, took out $300,000 worth of leverage with a $5,000 deposit.
  • Robinhood locked his account before he could make any trades, but he was able to withdraw $10,000.
  • Tomatotowers claimed Robinhood has another feature that offers infinite leverage, but he declined to reveal any details.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Reddit user who exploited Robinhood’s “infinite money” glitch told Business Insider he found it “exhilarating,” he was “well aware of the risks,” and he would do the same thing again if he could, only faster.

Tomatotowers learned about the bug on WallStreetBets, a subreddit with the tagline “Like 4chan found a Bloomberg terminal.” He used it to take out $300,000 worth of leverage on a $5,000 deposit in the stock-trading app. Robinhood locked his account before he could make any trades, but he was able to withdraw $10,000.

Scroll down for Tomatotowers’ interview with Business Insider.

Business Insider: Who are you?

Tomatotowers: I’m an undergrad student studying engineering and premed. I have been trading for about a year.

BI: How did you find out about the Robinhood glitch?

T: As far as I’m concerned, it’s not a glitch, but a feature. Robinhood support confirmed you are allowed to use premium from covered calls as collateral. But I saw it first on WallStreetBets.

BI: Why did you decide to exploit it?

T: It was an opportunity to be free from the chains of tuition and mortgages in one trade. It’s near impossible to make $1 million on a $1,000 account, but on $100 million, a chimpanzee could make a million.

BI: Were you concerned about the risks of getting in trouble with Robinhood, borrowing large amounts of cash, or taking huge positions that could turn bad?

T: No I was not. These young years I still have are the times to take risks, because I don’t have as much to lose (family, assets etc). I was well aware of the risks and they did not concern me.

BI: Walk us through the trades you made and positions you took.

T: To use Robinhood’s feature, you need to buy shares and sell deep-in-the-money calls. For example, buy 100 shares of General Electric with cash, another 100 shares on margin, and sell two deep-in-the-money calls with a $1 strike price.

Robinhood allows the premium to be used as collateral, so now they give you the buying power of 400 shares. You can continue this process until you are sufficiently leveraged. I got about $300,000 worth of leverage. I was planning on getting to $500 million and buying SPY calls for January 1 with a strike price of $310. Unfortunately, Robinhood locked my account before I could place any trades.

BI: What was the experience of exploiting the glitch like?

T: It was very exhilarating to see my buying power increase and to move that amount of money.

BI: How did it all end?

T: When I started to use the feature, my account had $5,000. After Robinhood locked my account and liquidated my holdings, I had $10,000 and was able to withdraw it. I am now banned from Robinhood, but I don’t owe them any money. I’m now with a different brokerage.

However, I noticed that a similar feature is still available on Robinhood to get infinite leverage. I emailed support to tell them, but they did not respond and essentially said, “Stop talking to us, you are banned.” I may later reveal how to access it.

BI: What did you learn from the experience, if anything?

T: I’m not sure I learned anything.

BI: What advice would you give to someone considering exploiting a similar glitch?

T: To anyone else trying to use this feature on Robinhood, go for it. Just be quick about it.

BI: What has been the hardest part of the whole process?

T: Knowing if I had made the right trade I could be retired now.

BI: If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently?

T: I would do it again, and I would be a lot quicker about it. It is too bad they have disabled the feature, it really was one thing that made Robinhood stand out from the other brokerages. Hopefully, we see more features like this from Robinhood, and as I stated earlier, I already see one that can be used.

Business Insider has reached out to Tomatotowers for screenshots from his Robinhood account and will update when we hear back.

Robinhood provided the following statement:

“We identified a small number of accounts engaging in problematic trading activity on our platform. We’ve quickly restricted these accounts, and made a permanent update to our systems intended to prevent anyone from engaging in this pattern of trades. We’ll continue to monitor closely for any type of abusive activity on our platform and will take action as appropriate.”

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