FBI seeks help from high-frequency traders to find data abuses

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Federal agents are making an unusual public plea for the financial industry to bare its secrets.

The FBI has solicited traders and stock-exchange workers to blow the whistle on possible front-running and manipulation via high-speed computers.

The bureau joins a roster of authorities that are examining high-frequency trading, in which firms use super-fast computers to post and cancel orders at rates measured in thousandths or even millionths of a second to capture price discrepancies. The strategy to invite whistle-blowers was prompted in part by the complexity of proving misconduct, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

Whistle-blowers are ready to step forward, Michael Lewis, author of ‘‘Flash Boys,’’ said Tuesday on NBC’s “Today Show.”

The FBI’s inquiry stems from a crackdown on insider trading.

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