The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a warning to the public yesterday concerning fraudsters who are now contacting people while pretending to be SEC employees in an attempt to trick potential victims into divulging private information or sending the crooks money.
The SEC’s alert – which even contained a recording of someone pretending to be “a senior compliance officer with the Securities and Exchange Commission” seeking to confirm the accuracy of an investment transaction “for the protection of both parties” – notes that the SEC does not contact investors to confirm trades, to set up investment holding or trading accounts, or to record information related to trades. Of course, it should be obvious that the SEC also does not endorse or sponsor any particular securities, issuers, products, services, professional credentials, firms, or individuals – but the alert contains information to that effect as well.
In addition to the scam mentioned in yesterday’s alert, there have also been reports in recent weeks of bogus SEC communications targeting people working at cryptocurrency and other blockchain-related businesses that are undergoing, or have undergone, Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). Criminals are apparently trying to exploit concerns related to the increased scrutiny that ICOs have received from regulators in recent months, including the SEC’s actions that led to the shutting down of an ICO late last year and its charging earlier this week of two people who the regulator says orchestrated a fraudulent ICO.
As always, if you receive a phone call, email, or text message from anyone claiming to represent the SEC, do not give that person private information or access to any of your money – instead contact the agency directly via the contact information available on its website (https://www.sec.gov/), which, as of the date of this article is +1 (800) 732-0330 by phone or Help@SEC.gov by email.
Likewise, if you are contacted by someone claiming to represent another government agency, a bank, a credit card company, or any other party asking for private information – contact the person, or the entity that he/she represents, using information that you know will connect you with the authentic, desired party.