As much as A.J. Haworth touts his own market prowess — he calls himself “clairvoyant” and “the most talented day trader in the world” — his fans are even more lavish with their praise.
The website for his trading club, AwesomeCalls, and his Twitter feed include dozens of testimonials from members who credit him with helping them learn the markets, get out of debt, support families, and splurge on nice dinners for loved ones.
“The man makes it happen!” a person using the handle @piratetrader79 tweeted recently, referring to Haworth. “If you are nervous about the market but know there is money to be made, get in #awesomecalls, teaching the confidence by the second!”
That confidence might be ill-founded, according to California Attorney General Rob Bonta. The state official, who was already suing Haworth over claims that he lacked an appropriate professional license, just lodged a revised complaint alleging that the trader also failed to tell his members that he racked up massive losses.
Despite proclaiming that he could “predict the movement of the stock before the market even opens,” Haworth had net losses every year since 2016, including $500,000 in 2018, $200,000 in 2019, and a “staggering” $14 million in 2020, the attorney general said in the new complaint.
The state official is seeking the return of $3 million Haworth earned by selling AwesomeCalls memberships, among other penalties. Members who sign up for AwesomeCalls, giving them access to a chatroom among other resources, pay anything from $25 for a day pass to about $5,000 for an “ultimate” annual package.
“These memberships are, at best, worthless, as Haworth is not a profitable day trader and cannot help anyone consistently improve their stock trading returns,” Bonta said in the complaint.
Based in Beverly Hills, California, Haworth operates AwesomeCalls a bit like a coach, offering tips and predictions about short-term market movements, and trading alongside participants throughout the day. He does not advocate chasing big returns on single positions, but instead engages in a practice some call “scalping,” by placing small bets mainly on technical patterns.
“Buy that back, pop it back...I made $260 so far...You have no idea how easy it is to trade,” he said in a recent demonstration video, posted to his YouTube channel.
Haworth apparently turned to day-trading after a failed run in the mortgage business. His company, International Mortgage, shut down around 2007. A related business, International Escrow, had its license revoked by the state that year over accusations of comingling funds, engaging in improper transfers and letting its trust fund fall below a required threshold.
As we explained in a previous story, Haworth and AwesomeCalls were initially sued by then-California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in February, over claims that he was acting as unlicensed investment advisor. At the time, Haworth had said he was fighting the case, and one of his lawyers told us that the day-trader was merely exercising his right to free speech by providing market tips.
The law at issue "has always maintained a registration exemption for protected First Amendment speech," Edward Paltzik of Joshpe Mooney Paltzik LLP, one of the law firms representing Haworth, told us in an email at the time. "As technology has advanced and information spreads instantly, we believe platforms like AwesomeCalls would fall within the publisher's exemption of the Act."
Lawyers for Haworth did not reply to a more recent request for comment for us on the allegations in the attorney general’s new complaint.