DYNAMITE IDEA

This man had a novel way to short Target’s stock—by blowing up its stores

For as long as there have been publicly traded stocks, there have been investors looking for ways to game the market. Few schemes are quite as explosive as the one Mark Charles Barnett is alleged to have planned.

Barnett—a registered sex offender living in Ocala, Florida—hired a man to set off bombs in Target stores along the East Coast to tank the retailers stock, according to federal prosecutors. In the aftermath, as the company’s shares would fall, Barnett planned to buy them at a discount and—theoretically, and assuming he wasn’t caught—sell them at a profit once prices rebounded.

Barnett hired an accomplice for $10,000 and outfitted him with at least 10 bombs disguised as boxes of pasta, breakfast bars, and stuffing mix to place on the shelves of stores in new York, Virginia, and Florida, it is alleged. The unnamed accomplice was warned not to jostle the bombs—they weren’t designed to kill, but could “take your hand off.”

Everything was going swimmingly until the accomplice wised up and, on Feb. 13, told authorities about Barnett’s investment strategy and turned over the bombs. Barnett was arrested and faces up to 10 years in prison.

Did the company ever think its trademark bullseye logo would be taken so literally?

home our picks popular latest obsessions search