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SEC Seniors Summit To Tackle Identifying, Stopping Investment Scams Against Senior Citizens


Washington, D.C., Sept. 6, 2007 - The Securities and Exchange Commission and three other organizations today announced the panelists and agenda for an upcoming Seniors Summit at the SEC to combat investment fraud and abusive sales practices against older Americans.

The second annual Seniors Summit will help older Americans identify and avoid common scams, better assess "free lunch" investment seminar invitations and other sales practices, and better protect themselves from the social persuasion tactics used by fraudsters. The SEC will host the event on Sept. 10 with the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and AARP.

A panel led by the SEC's Division of Enforcement at this year's summit will highlight cooperation among regulators and law enforcement to identify and stop investment scams against seniors. Already, the SEC has brought more than 40 enforcement actions in the past two years against frauds targeting retirees and other older investors.

"We need to do everything we can to ensure that seniors are well-educated about investment choices, and that they're treated fairly and appropriately by brokers, investment advisers, and others in the securities industry," said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox. "Avoiding scams requires a combination of information and common sense. Being aware of the latest fraud tactics and understanding how common investment products work can help seniors and investors of all ages keep their money safe."

The Seniors Summit also will include the release of findings from an examination of securities firms offering "free lunch" investment seminars aimed at senior citizens. Other panel discussions will focus on investor education and the need for securities firms to improve their sales practices for older investors.

Finally, AARP will lead a lunch and learn program for seniors on the devious social persuasion tactics used by con-artists against senior citizens. Among the most common is "phantom fixation," where the fraudster dangles a prize, such as a sum of money or a vacation, to tantalize the victim. Another is "social consensus," in which the con-artist convinces a victim that peers, neighbors, and other respected members of a community are all making this particular investment. The "scarcity" tactic exaggerates a false time-sensitive situation, pressuring victims to act fast on an investment before it's too late. The "reciprocity" principle of social interaction involves a small favor for the victim (such as a free lunch) and relies on human nature to induce the victim to return the favor in kind by buying the investment.

Senior investors and other members of the public are invited to attend the SEC's Seniors Summit. Registration information and other information materials are available at: http://www.sec.gov/spotlight/seniors/seniors_summit.htm or by calling (800) 732-0330. The event also will be webcast live on the SEC Web site at www.sec.gov.

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9:00-10:00 Registration
10:00-10:10 Opening Remarks:
SEC Chairman Christopher Cox
10:10-10:25 Overview

Joseph Borg
President, North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA)

Chris Hansen
Group Executive Officer for State and National Initiatives, AARP

Mary Schapiro
CEO, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

10:25-10:50 Panel 1
"Free Lunch" Investment Seminars: Examination Sweep Findings, Implications

Lori Richards, Director, SEC Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations

  • SEC Commissioner Kathleen Casey
  • Bob Errico, Executive Vice President, Office of Member Regulation, FINRA
  • David Massey, Deputy Securities Administrator North Carolina Securities Division; Chair, NASAA Enforcement Section
10:50-10:55 Fraud victim video
10:55-11:20 Panel 2
Investor Education: Innovations in Reaching Seniors

Moderator: Kristin Kaepplein, Director, SEC Office of Investor Education and Advocacy

  • SEC Commissioner Paul Atkins
  • John Gannon, Senior Vice President, Office of Investor Education, FINRA
  • Jean Setzfand, Director, Financial Security Outreach & Service, AARP
  • Karen Tyler, North Dakota Securities Commissioner, NASAA President-Elect
11:20-11:35 Break
11:35-11:55 Panel 3
Identifying and Stopping Common Scams

Moderator: Linda Thomsen, Director, SEC Division of Enforcement

  • SEC Commissioner Roel Campos
  • Steve Luparello, Senior Executive Vice President, Regulation, FINRA
  • Patricia D. Struck, Administrator, Division of Securities, Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, NASAA Past President
  • George Gaberlavage, Director, Policy Research & Development, Consumer Issues, AARP
11:55-12:00 Fraud victim video
12:00-12:20 Panel 4
Improving Sales Practices

Moderator: Erik Sirri, Director, SEC Division of Market Regulation

  • SEC Commissioner Annette Nazareth
  • Bryan Lantagne, Director, Massachusetts Securities Division
  • Elisse Walter, Senior Executive Vice President, Office of Regulatory Policy and Programs, FINRA
  • Ryan Wilson, Senior Policy Advisor, Public Policy Institute - Consumer Issues, AARP
12:20-12:25 Closing Remarks: SEC Chairman Christopher Cox
12:30-1:30 Box Lunch and Learn for Senior Citizens (pre-registration required)
"The Weapons of Fraud: The Psychology Behind the Scams"
Doug Shadel, State Director, AARP Washington



Modified: 09/10/2007