Brokerage Firm's Identity Hijacked Online

May 2, 2008

On April 25, 2008, the State of Utah's Department of Commerce issued a Media Alert warning the public that WindRiver Capital, a local Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm, had been victimized by an "international Internet fraudster" who stole the company's "name, created bogus marketing materials using the company's real Provo address and created fake websites."  The fake websites were taken down as of April 23rd.

Investors are urged to contact the Division of Securities to make sure anyone offering investments is licensed, by calling (801) 530.6600, toll free at 1.800.721.7233 or logging on to . Information can also be obtained at FINRA's website and using the FINRA BrokerCheck function.

During the past several years I have become aware of offshore operatives who create websites that mimic those of either existing FINRA firms or of broker-dealers that recently ceased conducting a business.  Based upon conversations that I have had with federal criminal authorities, it appears that such efforts are emanating in Eastern Europe and Asia.  One case I handled involved the creation of a website that was apparently operating from New Zealand and displayed photos of the firm and its principals that had been lifted from a then defunct website of the victimized firm (which had ceased doing a securities business a few years earlier).  In addition to soliciting investors for stock offerings (which I assume were bogus), the fake site provided a "contact us" page on which visitors were asked to provide name, address, email, and phone data--one can only imagine how such information was used.