The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned US investors about scammers imitating SEC employees in government imposter scams via emails, phone calls, voicemails, and letters. The warning came from the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA). It releases alerts regularly to keep investors informed about new investment scams and frauds.
OIEA said that they know some people have lately received voicemail messages or phone calls from a phone number that seems to be from the SEC. The phone calls and texts allegedly raised worries about illegal transactions or other suspicious activities in the victims’ checking or cryptocurrency accounts.
Investors should not divulge personal information unless they are confident of dealing with an SEC representative, as these phone calls and voicemails are unrelated to the SEC. Investors can use the SEC’s staff locator at (202) 551-6000, call (800) SEC-0330, or email help@SEC.gov to authenticate the identity of someone making unwanted calls or messages and purporting to be from the SEC.
People who have been the victim of fraud by someone posing as the SEC can register a complaint with the SEC’s Office of Inspector General at www.sec.gov/oig or contact the OIG’s toll-free hotline at (833) SEC-OIG1 (732-6441). According to the SEC department, the SEC does not seek money from any individual or company outside its official Enforcement process.
In July, investors were also cautioned by the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division about fraudsters impersonating licensed financial professionals such as brokers and investment advisors.
The FBI warning came on the heels of a FINRA warning about broker imposter frauds, including 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. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center can contact individuals with information about a broker imposter scheme.