The FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division and the Securities and Exchange Commission warn investors about scammers posing as registered investment professionals, such as investment advisers and registered brokers.
The ultimate goal of these imposter broker schemes is to lure their targets into investment scams using fake sites, fake social media profiles, cold calls, and doctored documents.
This advisory was issued in collaboration with the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (IAEA), a department of the SEC designed to help individual investors protect themselves from securities fraud or abuse.
“Scammers may falsely claim that they are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) or a state securities regulator in order to lure investors to scams, or even impersonate real investment professionals who are actually registered with these organizations, “the FBI and SEC warned earlier this week.
“Fraudsters may misappropriate the name, address, registration number, logo, photo or image from the website of a currently or previously registered investment professional or company.”
The FBI and SEC warning follows a Similar fraud alert issued by FINRA This week regarding imposter broker scams using phishing sites posing as brokers and tampered SEC or FINRA registration documents.
Scam Signs in Fake BrokerCheck Report (FINRA)
Investors are advised to first check whether those seeking investment opportunities are licensed or registered with the Investor.gov search tool and confirm you are not a scammer by contacting the seller using independently verified contact information from the company’s Customer Relationship Summary (CRS form).
Regardless of whether someone is SEC registered or just trying to impersonate a registered investment professional, investors should always check for the following warning signs of an investment scam:
- Guaranteed high return on investment: Promises of high investment returns, often accompanied by a guarantee of little or no risk, are a classic sign of fraud. Every investment has risk, and the potential for high returns generally carries high risk.
- Unsolicited offers: Unsolicited offers (you didn’t ask for them and you don’t know the sender) for investment returns that seem “too good to be true” may be part of a scam.
- Red flags in investment payment methods: credit cards, wallets of digital assets and “cryptocurrencies”, bank transfers and checks.
Investors are also encouraged to consult the list of Genuine signature impersonators maintained by the SEC, which, while not exhaustive, as it does not include all unregistered entities, genuine signature copycats, bogus regulators, or entities investigated by the SEC, will likely help avoid some investment scam attempts.
If you are the victim or have information about an impostor broker scheme, you can report possible securities fraud to SECOND and online fraud at FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.
“If you suspect the information you receive from a person or company requesting your business, contact FINRA or other regulator BEFORE submitting any personal or financial information “, FINRA aggregate.