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Updated Investor Alert: SEC Warns of Government Impersonators

Feb. 9, 2016

SEC staff is issuing this updated Investor Alert because we are aware of continuing fraudulent solicitations that purport to be affiliated with or sponsored by the Securities and Exchange Commission, including scams that make phony claims of endorsement by senior officials at the SEC.

The SEC does not endorse investment offers, assist in the purchase or sale of securities, or participate in money transfers.  SEC staff will not, for example, contact individuals by telephone or email for purposes of:

  • recommending an investment opportunity;
  • seeking assistance with a fund transfer;
  • forwarding investment offers to them;
  • advising individuals that they own certain securities;
  • telling investors that they are eligible to receive disbursements from an investor claims fund or class action settlement; or
  • offering grants or other financial assistance (especially for an upfront fee).

SEC staff do not make these types of unsolicited communications, including emails or telephone calls asking for detailed personal and financial information, such as shareholdings and PIN numbers.  If you receive a telephone call or email from someone claiming to be from the SEC (or another government agency), always verify the person’s identity.  Use the SEC’s personnel locator, (202) 551-6000, to verify whether the caller is an SEC staff member and to speak with him or her directly.  Email messages may falsely appear to come from SEC email accounts. 

Some fraudulent schemes deceive and defraud unwary investors by using websites and email addresses ending in ".us" or ".org" and containing ".gov" as part of the domain address.  Investors should beware of any website or correspondence purporting to be from a U.S. government agency bearing an email address or website domain that does not end in ".gov," ".mil," or "fed.us." 

Fake SEC correspondence may look authentic and imitate the official SEC seal.  If you are unsure whether correspondence appearing to be from the SEC is authentic, submit a question online to the SEC or call the SEC at (800) SEC-0330 (or 1-202-551-6551 if calling from outside of the United States). In addition, you can call the SEC at (800) SEC-0330 for general information, including information about SEC enforcement actions and any investor claims funds. 

If you have been contacted by someone pretending to be an SEC staff member, please let us know by either calling us or submitting a Complaint Form.  You may also report the incident to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at www.ic3.gov.

It is easy to figure out who the real regulators are and how you can contact them.  You’ll find a list of international securities regulators on the website of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and a directory of state and provincial regulators in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. on the website of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA).  If someone encourages you to verify information about a deal with an entity that doesn't appear on these lists, you should be wary.

For additional tips on investing wisely and avoiding fraud, please visit the following web pages:

Updated Investor Alert: SEC Warns of Government Impersonators Demanding Money (August 2015)

Updated Investor Alert: SEC Warns of Government Impersonators (May 2015)

Updated Investor Alert: Beware of Companies Using the SEC Seal (April 2015)

Investor Alert: Be on the Lookout for Advance Fee Fraud (September 2014)

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

Investor Alert: SEC Warns of Bogus Securities Regulators Soliciting Investors (May 2013)

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

FTC Identity Theft Site


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 conce