US Securities and Exchange Commission Is Warning Investors
A Warning Was Issued About Possible Impersonation Attacks
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a warning to US investors about scammers impersonating SEC employees via phone calls, voicemails, emails, and letters in government imposter scams.
The warning comes from the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA), which releases warnings on a regular basis to keep investors informed about new investment frauds and scams.
The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is issuing this Investor Alert to warn you of communications – including phone calls, voicemails, emails, and letters – that may falsely appear to be from the SEC.
We are aware that several individuals recently received phone calls or voicemail messages that appeared to be from an SEC phone number. The calls and messages raised purported concerns about unauthorized transactions or other suspicious activity in the recipients’ checking or cryptocurrency accounts. These phone calls and voicemail messages are in no way connected to the SEC. If you receive a communication that appears to be from the SEC, do not provide any personal information unless you have verified that you are dealing with the SEC. The SEC does not seek money from any person or entity as a penalty or disgorgement for alleged wrongdoing outside of its formal Enforcement process.
SEC staff do not make unsolicited communications – including phone calls, voicemail messages, or emails – asking for payments related to enforcement actions, offering to confirm trades, or seeking detailed personal and financial information. Be skeptical if you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the SEC and asking about your shareholdings, account numbers, PIN numbers, passwords, or other information that may be used to access your financial accounts. Again, never provide information to someone claiming to be from the SEC until you have verified that the person actually works for the SEC.
Because these phone calls and voicemails are “in no way affiliated to the SEC,” investors are cautioned not to divulge personal information unless they confirm they’re speaking with an SEC employee.
As thoroughly explained by BleepingComputer, any user can utilize the SEC’s staff locator at (202) 551-6000, contact (800) SEC-0330, or email help@SEC.gov to authenticate the identity of someone making unwanted calls or messages claiming to be from the SEC.
Con artists have used the names of real SEC employees and email messages that falsely appear to be from the SEC to trick victims into sending the fraudster’s money. Impersonation of US Government agencies and employees (as well as of legitimate financial services entities) is one common feature of advance fee solicitations and other fraudulent schemes. Even where the fraudsters do not request that funds be sent directly to them, they may use personal information they obtain to steal an individual’s identity or misappropriate their financial assets.
Investors were also cautioned in July by the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division about fraudsters impersonating licensed financial professionals such as brokers and investment advisors.
The FBI warning came soon after a FINRA alert about broker imposter frauds involving phishing sites mimicking brokers and doctored SEC or FINRA registration paperwork.
The SEC can be contacted by victims or people with information about a broker imposter scam, and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center can be contacted by individuals with information about a broker imposter scheme.