Securities and Exchange Commission Imposters Target Public

April 5, 2018

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently posted "SEC Warns of Government Impersonators" (SEC Press Release 2018-55) warning investors about an ongoing scam in which fraudsters claiming to be SEC employees attempt to trick investors into sending money or revealing sensitive account information.  As reported by some targets of this fraud, the scheme may start with what seems like a bona fide solicitation to buy stock from a stockbroker or other purported industry professional. Thereafter, you may be contacted by a conspirator pretending to be from the SEC and claiming to need to verify or confirm that transaction, as exemplified in this excerpt of a taped conversation:

I'm a senior compliance officer with the Securities and Exchange Commission . . .my job is to simply verify and confirm the order . . . so I am confirming a buy order from Mr. [name of person], who is a portfolio manager of [name of firm] . . .in accordance to the regulations that are set forth by the Securities and Exchange Commission on the U.S. markets, Mr. [name of investor], for the protection of both parties, what I'm going to do is record the details of the trade. It goes on file as a voice audio signature with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a regulated trade. Okay? . . . and it functions exactly as a fingerprint. It's non-retractable . . . do I have your consent to place the order, Mr. [name of investor]?

The SEC's Investor Alert reminds the public that the federal regulator does NOT endorse or sponsor any particular securities, issuers, products, services, professional credentials, firms, or individuals. Pointedly, the SEC does not contact investors to confirm trades, set up trading accounts, or record the details of trades. Blog has posted a full-length telephone conversation recorded by a suspicious recipient contacted by one of the purported SEC staff impersonators:


FINRA Warns Investors of 'Regulator' Imposter Scams / Con Artists Posing as FINRA CEO ‘Guarantee' Fraudulent Investments (FINRA Press Release, February 16, 2018)

Recently, financial fraudsters used FINRA's name and logo in correspondence - including a fake signature from FINRA President and Chief Executive Officer Robert W. Cook - to create the false impression that FINRA provided guarantees related to an investment opportunity that was, in fact, an advance-fee scam. The Investor Alert contains an infographic of an actual fraudulent letter that highlights tactics used by scammers to build credibility.

FBI Director Comey Offers Wall Street Lawyer Bill Singer Hitch Free US$8 Million ( Blog, December 23, 2016)

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in conjunction with other relevant Investigation Agencies here in the State have been informed through our Global intelligence monitoring network that you have an on-going transaction with the Bank in African as regard to your over-due contract payment which was fully endorsed in your favour. It might interest you to know that we have taken time in screening through this project as stipulated on our protocol of operation and have finally confirmed that your contract payment is 100% genuine and hitch free from all facet and of which you have the lawful right to claim without any further delay. We will further advise that you go ahead and deal with the wood forest national accordingly as we will be monitoring all their correspondence with you.