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SEC Warns of Fake Correspondence

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SEC Warns of Fake Correspondence

Oct. 1, 2013

Investor Alert: SEC Warns of Fake Correspondence

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is issuing this Investor Alert to warn investors about fraudulent solicitations using correspondence claiming to be from SEC staff and Commissioners (including phony letters using the SEC seal and purporting to be signed by Commissioner Daniel Gallagher).

The SEC does not assist with the purchase or sale of securities, or participate in fund transfers. The SEC also does not approve or endorse any particular securities, issuers, products, services, professional credentials, firms, or individuals. Beware of letters that purport to come from SEC staff or Commissioners:

  • advising you that you own certain securities;
  • verifying that you are the beneficiary of certain securities;
  • seeking or offering assistance to transfer funds;
  • recognizing individuals or firms as agents;
  • suggesting that an investment is legitimate or encouraging you to proceed with an investment; or
  • offering you grants or other financial assistance (especially for an upfront fee).

Such letters are not genuine.

Fabricated correspondence purporting to be from SEC staff or Commissioners may be realistic-looking. Email messages may appear to come from SEC email accounts. Letters may imitate the official SEC seal and forge the signature of SEC staff and Commissioners.

If you are unsure whether or not correspondence appearing to be from SEC staff or Commissioners is authentic, submit a question online to the SEC at www.sec.gov/complaint/question.shtml or call the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330 (or 1-202-551-6551 if calling from outside of the United States). If you receive a letter or email misrepresenting that it is from SEC staff or Commissioners, submit a complaint online to the SEC at www.sec.gov/complaint/tipscomplaint.shtml. You may also report the incident to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at www.ic3.gov.

Before investing, check out the registration status and background of any firm or financial professional you are considering dealing with through FINRA BrokerCheck at www.finra.org/investors/toolscalculators/brokercheck/ and BASIC Search at www.nfa.futures.org/basicnet, the National Futures Association Background Affiliation Status Information Center. If you cannot verify that they are registered, do not trade with them, do not give them any money, and do not share your personal information with them.

For additional tips on investing wisely and avoiding fraud, please visit the following web pages on the SEC's website and Investor.gov:

Investor Alert: Beware Investment Offers Implying SEC Endorsement (June 2013)

Updated Investor Alert: SEC Warns of Government Impersonators (April 2013)

Updated Investor Alert: SEC Warns of Government Impersonators (November 2012)

Investor Alert: SEC Warns of Government Impersonators (February 2012)

"Phishing" Fraud: How to Avoid Getting Fried by Phony Phishermen

Avoiding Fraud

"Advance Fee Fraud" Schemes

Public Alert: Unregistered Soliciting Entities (PAUSE) List of Fictitious Governmental Agencies and International Organizations Associated with Soliciting Entities

Fake Seals and Phony Numbers: How Fraudsters Try to Look Legit

Ask Questions

The Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has provided this information as a service to investors.  It is neither a legal interpretation nor a statement of SEC policy.  If you have questions concerning the meaning or application of a particular law or rule, please consult with an attorney who specializes in securities law.

Last modified: Oct. 3, 2013