A leading critic of high-frequency traders says he has been “vindicated” after the Securities and Exchange Commission handed him a $750,000 whistleblower award.But Eric Scott Hunsader, of Winnetka1, says he would happily have accepted just $1 if regulators had taken him seriously when he first raised the alarm about violations of securities law on the New York Stock Exchange in 2010. Instead, it took the SEC two years to fine the NYSE $5 million for sending price data to customers who paid for proprietary feeds a few seconds before it shared them on the feeds used by the public. That gave the high-frequency traders who could afford the proprietary feeds an unfair advantage over the public, said Hunsader, who called the $5 million fine “way too light — it should have been $100 million. Hunsader runs his market data business, Nanex, above a nail salon in the north suburb, and has made himself the bete noire of wealthy high frequency traders, frequently publicly accusing them of rigging markets at the expense of other investors. Some players in high-frequency trading, which dominates trading volume on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and other exchanges, have accused him of being a conspiracy theorist. And while the SEC would not confirm that Hunsader received the award, citing laws that prevent it from identifying even willing whistleblowers, it said in a news release in January that an unnamed whistleblower was receiving “more than $700,000.” Hunsader showed the Tribune a letter from the SEC confirming that he was earmarked to receive the award. “After more than 2,000 days, it’s better than nothing!” he said with a laugh Wednesday, adding that he would use the money to put his four daughters through college, but that the prize was less than he typically makes in a year and “less than the reputational loss I’ve suffered” by taking on powerful high-frequency traders. Chicago — a center for high-frequency trading — is due later this month to host the sentencing of Michael Coscia, a New Jersey trader who last year became the first to be convicted under a new law that targets so-called “spoofing,” a form of high-speed fraud in which con artists rip off other market participants in a few thousandths of a second. Navinder Sarao, a U.K.-based trader who is accused of partly causing the May 2010 flash crash in a similar case, is fighting extradition to Chicago from London.