The Zombie Traders

What the fuck is a Zombie Trader? No, it’s not a day trading educator that teaches how to eat the meaty corpse of the market. And it’s not a ‘live trading room’ where the moderator pumps a low float penny stock, and then quickly sells it to his subscribers.

Although, the penny pumper, live trading rooms certainly seem very much like financial cannibalism. Simply because the penny pumpers in the live trading room are eating the account balances of the subscribers.

No, these are not the Zombie Traders of which I describe. Instead, a Zombie Trader is the term that I use to describe individuals that are stuck in the seemingly never-ending cycle of trading on a simulator, and hoping to be paid for it.

The Simulator Hustlers

The simulator hustlers are, of course, the multitudes of companies that are offering “we will give you trading capital” and “free money” nonsense.

Some perfect examples would be TopStep Trader, OneUp Trader, TradeNet, Earn2Trade, etc. etc. etc.

Please forgive me for not providing a complete list. There are now so many of these “free money” and “we will fund your trading account” schemes that I can hardly keep track.

Anyway, the ‘opportunity’ is all basically the same. You pay a monthly fee, trade on a simulator, and if you successfully trade on the simulator, then you get to keep a portion of the profits, that is earned on a simulator.

Over the past several years, it has been fun watching and writing about the multitudes of companies that have quickly appeared and then just as quickly disappeared.

Some of these companies are better than others. And some are just plain awful. But its a niche that is not going away, and so, as a writer and reviewer…the best I can do is proffer my little opinion.

Truth be told, I personally know nearly every gangster in this niche, so writing negative content is a bit more complicated. But I shit on everyone, and everyone expects that, so feelings are usually bruised for only a short time.

Today, I wanted to write about a person that really burned the “Simulator Hustlers” and took them down for a nice chunk of money.

And I wanted to give you a warning. Specifically, why trading on a simulator, in certain situations, are actually quite harmful to your long term development.

Meir Barak, TradeNet and TEPS Trading Program

If you have spent any amount of time on YouTube, then you have probably come across Meir Barak. He supposedly wants to teach you how to trade. For a fat fee.

Once he “teaches” you how to trade. Of course, he wants you to open an account with TradeNet, and participate in the TEPS Trading Program.

Basically, you are giving Meir Barak $5k to $50k and he then converts the money into “credits” which you then use to speculate on a trading simulator. He owns the trading simulator.

If you are really lucky, you might actually win some money on the ‘video game’ trading simulator. Meir pays you as a “trader” through the TEPS program.

The key to remember is that when you actually win on this goofy simulator, then Meir loses. So he is betting that you will lose, and lose badly. If you win, then his company must pay your winnings. It’s a classic bucket shop.

But what if a trader figures out a way to game the system? What if he finds a flaw in the ‘video game’ and takes Meir for a wild and unprofitable ride? That’s where things get interesting.

Trader “A” finds a flaw and exploits it.

Recently, a trader contacted me with such a story. I found it funny and clever and wanted to share his story.

He did not want to use his real name, so we will just call him/her trader “A.”

Trader “A” is not a newbie trader. He has been designing automated computer trading algorithms for many years. He has also worked as a computer programmer and part of his day job is creating short cuts for comparative pricing in the automobile insurance market and the travel niche.

He knows how to find flaws in information systems. And trading simulators are the ultimate information systems.

Anyway, he created an automated strategy that quickly attempted to scalp illiquid stocks DURING a massive volume spike. The key is DURING a massive volume spike. As he describes, simulators can be easily fooled when they are suddenly flooded with large amounts of data.

During the first couple of weeks with TradeNet, he quickly discovered the flaws in Meir’s video game and was able to “scalp” Meir Barak for a few hundred dollars. He knew this amount would not set off any red flags.

In the ensuing four weeks, he upped the trade size and really started peeling out money. Though I cannot be absolutely sure the total amount, he describes it as +$25k in profit, with little effort.

He next attempted to pull his money out. No problem. Meir paid up. Every good bookie needs to always pay his losses. But how long would his little scam keep going?

Game Over

After he got paid, he went “back to the well” and attempted to drain Meir’s wallet once again.

However, he quickly discovered that his “strategy” was no longer working. The orders were not getting filled. And so, he contacted TradeNet and asked: “What’s going on, my orders are no longer getting filled?”

The TradeNet rep responded that they had connected his account to a live data feed and a live trading account. In other words, they had converted him out of a trading simulator and into a live, real market trading environment.

Once he was converted into a live trading environment, then he knew the game was over. The “real” market requires a counterparty to all trades. A trading simulator does not.

Of course, he already knew that his automated strategy would not work in a “real” market because there simply was not enough volume to support the hyper buying and selling. But he knew that he could game the simulator with a few clever tweaks.

Why is this important?

The first reason is that it’s great to see a bucket shop take a hit. Nothing better or more enjoyable than taking money from these nerds.

The second reason is that trading on a simulator is just a big fat lie. Especially on thinly traded stocks, futures, or Forex. A simulator will appear to replicate market dynamics, but the hard cold reality is that the subtle differences are the differences that will destroy you, or make you fabulously wealthy.

Recently, I interviewed Steven Dux and he laughed at the idea of using a simulator. In his own personal journey, he described this exact situation. A situation where he thought he had a winning strategy and had spent much time and effort perfecting it — on a simulator. Only after he attempted to live trade it, he quickly discovered that he could not get his orders filled.

Think about that.

There are no professional simulated traders

If you are currently stuck in the never-ending cycle of simulated trading — you are a zombie trader. You are going nowhere. You are just a dull-eyed nitwit that is being charged hundreds of dollars each month, with the sad dream of being a “real” trader.

What is the best route for the newbie trader? Firstly, you need to avoid simulators. They just don’t work.

The best option is to open a small account (preferably a few hundred dollars) that you can afford to lose. Nearly all of the brokers are now offering $0 cost commissions, so why not just take the plunge and trade stocks or leveraged ETF’s?

With $0 cost commissions, you can now afford to actually test your opinions against real market participants, and your losses will be minimal.

Plenty of traders mistakenly believe that the first step is “I need a big trading account.” This is absolutely wrong. The first thing you need is to forget about your account size and get your feet wet.

Try taking a few trades, experience the emotional highs and lows, and savior just how difficult this game really is.

Wrapping things up

Thanks for reading. In a couple of weeks, I have another article about a Futures trader, and how he “burned” one of the Futures “we will fund your trading account” companies for $15k.

It’s a fun and clever story how he pulled it off. Yet another glitch on a simulator got exposed. But the “sugar high” was only for a couple of weeks -they caught onto his little scam.

BTW, if you have ever participated in one of these “funded trader” schemes, would love to know your experiences? Please comment below.

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YOUNESS. (@guest_4055396)
4 years ago

Awsome article as usual. I wich you can write an article about the new trend in financial markets – the 0$ commission – and how orders are sold to MM by the brokers.

Igor (@guest_4055296)
4 years ago

Great Article.

noload (@guest_4055255)
4 years ago

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“An entertainer, trading hustler, and performance artists that have spent the past 17 years convincing the gullible and naive into purchasing his ridiculously corny trading products.”
” Ken Calhoun is long time salesman of trading systems, courses, advisories, software, etc. Has been selling trading “wet” dreams since the late 1990’s. Onward he continues to dance, sing, and entertain the masses with his stories of day trading glory and day trading lifestyle. Has he ever traded successfully? Yes. He is certainly not the world’s greatest trader, but at least some of his trading records are verifiable.”

Day Trading University

noload (@guest_4055258)
4 years ago
Reply to  Emmett Moore

Yes, thanks, worth having a nice “Primo-phone laugh” about the industry. It’s ok to me having a proven “breakevener” on TS, even a clownish one, but having had a heavy retail marketer history as bad as some of the worst scammers seen. ex. ” assigned our best online sleuth (Reyna) onto the job of curating the entirety of Ken Calhoun’s trading product offerings. It was no small job. In fact, it took her 3 days of digging, researching, and organizing. And yet, she is confident that she has only found about half of Ken Calhoun’s differing trading products and websites.”
Just wanted to put some perspective on this comment page for those who are new and hadn’t seen the old review and its comments.
(and great paragraphs on the long standing Money&Traders Expo circuit which imo should have it’s own separate review)

Ken (@guest_4055316)
4 years ago
Reply to  Emmett Moore

Hi noload, I understand where you’re coming from. Let me explain; back in the old days it was a lot easier to simply put up a new website whenever I had a new course to launch, so that it was easier for traders to remember where to find it.

It was all about testing a trading strategy; and sharing lessons learned via a new course on its own site. Also it’s easier for people to remember, for (coursename).com instead of ( … Make sense? That’s the truth of it.

Nowadays most of those sites simply point to my main website. Nothing to do with marketing, it was more just an easy way for me to launch new ideas quickly, in a way that makes it easy for traders to find.

There are Internet marketers posing as traders who, without any proof that they even really trade, spew out lots of websites as a marketing approach; that’s not me. I’m authentic. Nowadays, heavy marketing is mainly done on Instagram by the small-cap daytrading marketers; I don’t know how they have time for trading with all the daily posts they make.

At least traders find my training valuable; I was voted number one author in the world for articles on stocks and commodities magazine as the winner of the readers choice award this past year.

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I don’t see myself as clownish, I’m outrageously handsome and smart, lol. Folks are free to disagree, opinions help make people stronger. In fact, thanks again Emmett — since your review went up years ago I mostly stopped making those promotional type videos and instead simply focused on technical trading and lessons learned from recent real money trades I’ve done, both wins and stops. I listen and learn. I’m far from perfect and I welcome constructive honest ideas on how I can improve both my training and my presentation. Life is short, I want to add value as best I can.

I think I have something to offer: not promises of consistent profits or Lamborghini lifestyles or other BS, more simply lessons learned from the many successes and failures have experienced as an active trader this last 20 years. My sales are far lower than my competitors who make phony promises, but at least I can sleep at night knowing I played it straight. I’m a UCLA grad and former corporate training consultant and statistician who got into trading back in the late 90s.

Speaking of which, I really value any suggestions from anybody on how to continue offering training based on lessons learned in a way that competes with the small-cap dishonest daytrading chat room gurus, because they claim to make fortunes, which is appealing to the public, but doesn’t work the way they make it seem to.

This last few years have been particularly tough because I’ve lost a lot of business to the predator type social media guys who con traders. (break out tiny violin, lol) My traders value the honesty, but it’s not as sexy as the marketing hype small-cap day traders who are making youtube videos claiming to make $3,000 in a single day trading thousands of shares of low float under $10 pos pop and drop stocks, which amazes me that people believe that bs. /truth/

I completely agree that it’s important to both vilify the many bad guys out there, and also give credit where its been earned to people actually worth learning from. Thanks for listening.


p.s. why don’t any of the other educators answer or engage in dialogue here? I take time because I believe in what I’m doing, though I’m sure I can do a better job. And overall i like this site because it cautions traders.

Ken (@guest_4055063)
4 years ago

Well-written article, Emmett. Your points make sense. If it sounds too good to be true…

+ imho funded account schemes, like joining a prop shop, kill traders’ accounts with lots of costly fees (data/platform/mandatory training/inactivity etc) and should be avoided at all costs.

+ agree re sim trading to a degree; main value is to use sim to test out new ideas briefly to improve them, before live. Your point re small acct/small size/zero commish is on target; you can’t learn discipline/emotional control on sim. biggest disconnect is traders sim-trading big paper vs smaller real trades; free commisshes are a game-changer.

a) “trade our money” = you lose $$$ in overhead/fees and it doesn’t work for most traders

b) the BS low-float under $10 day trading under-40 clever con artists are likely making partial/phony income claims, despite posting on instagram/youtube daily, and are Not being honest.

live room bs:
+ the bad operators are running a social-media show; complete with choosing chat platforms that enable posts/attaboy comments posted by paid-off shills who also post phony “thanks I just made $x,ooo” (FTC endorsed testimonial rule violation)
+ they run “mirror accounts” to reduce risk; eg they buy 3,000 shares of POS $3 stock long in Account A, while, unknown to their front-run victims, an offscreen confederate simultaneously goes short in Account B, so even if they publicly “lose” $3k the mirror account makes it up.
+ failure to post specific entry triggers at least several minutes ahead of time
+ use non-US overseas broker whose DOM/platform fails to disclose paper account vs real (check T&S to verify if the guru actually did a 3k share trade; they don’t)
+ claiming to buy or sell after the fact, its fake as in “just sold ABC for $2000 profit” bs
+ no you likely won’t become financially free nor consistently profitable trading cheap stocks.
+ especially dangerous are the new under-40 inexperienced trading poser-gurus; they have similar MOs: phony performance claims of lots of big-money regular winning >$1000 days (ask for tax return proof), they’re all over instagram and youtube, their businesses are just a few years old, they are social-media shitshow operators, not genuine experts.

imo live rooms should focus on training: best chart patterns, timing & risk mgmt.

in 20 years i’ve heard it all; there’s many wolves in sheep’s clothing, and so caveat emptor.

– Ken

Ken (@guest_4055095)
4 years ago
Reply to  Emmett Moore

+Brilliant, re single share trading — I’ll recommend that to my traders, and credit you. That’s the lowest-risk, lowest cost And still authentic way for traders to learn, since they get the thrill of victory/agony of defeat experience + pattern recognition/risk mgmt training without phony sim trading. You’re smart.

+ btw I’m grateful to you, because for twenty years the #1 complaint traders had about me was my (honest/valid) competitor-bashing, you do a much better job than I ever did of educating too-trusting traders about the bs in the industry; your critiques are often harsh but valid, with much-needed humor.

+ I’d divide educators into 1 of 3 categories fwiw:

#1 Predators: total scam artists, who lie about performance, making bs income claims and mislead traders; sim passed off as real, phony testimonials, lots of sneaky cons that the general public are clueless about. They deserve being vilified. The “tells” are mainly money-related. Examples = cheap-stock day trading room operators with, as you correctly call ‘trader porn’ lifestyle videos, & instagram posts. Shitshow showmen. Anyone using the phrase ‘consistently profitable’ or constantly claiming to have $2000+ winning days is an instant red flag.

#2 Pretenders: Most educators are here; traders would be shocked that many of their educator heroes haven’t traded in years, if at all. Like i had models honestly say on video, “if they can’t prove they trade, it’s just a charade” .

#3 Preachers: traders who teach honestly: Though not as sexy as claiming to make a fortune trading, selling real-world “lessons learned” can be beneficial, If, as I do, they at least show P&L proof they are actually trading currently, so what they teach is based on last week’s trades, both wins & stops. Like i got stopped out today trying for bounces in WWR & BIMI; I f up frequently, but learn from it. sometimes lol

I’m frustrated as fuck the liars capture big market share (til AG/SEC/CFTC takedowns), its hard to compete nowadays being candid, by the book/compliant vs social-media savvy small-cap conmen who entice with implied get rich quick claims. open to ideas 😮

Your site is part of the solution, your voice is heard, thx — hey how about a couple youtube videos? You’d be great. esp now with all the people getting into trading as newbs w/zero commisshes, protecting the lambs is good karma.

l8er, gonna go watch the new Hobbs & Shaw movie.


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