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US SEC warns investors of ongoing govt impersonation attacks

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned US investors of scammers impersonating SEC officials in government impersonator schemes via phone calls, voicemails, emails, and letters.

The alert comes from SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA), which regularly issues warnings to inform investors about the latest developments in investment frauds and scams. 

“We are aware that several individuals recently received phone calls or voicemail messages that appeared to be from an SEC phone number,” OIEA said.

“The calls and messages raised purported concerns about unauthorized transactions or other suspicious activity in the recipients’ checking or cryptocurrency accounts.”

Investors are advised not to provide personal info until they verify they’re actuating speaking with an SEC official since these phone calls and voicemails are “in no way connected to the SEC.”

To confirm the identity of someone behind unsolicited calls or messages claiming to be from the SEC, you can use the SEC’s personnel locator at (202) 551-6000, or call (800) SEC-0330 or email help@SEC.gov.

If you are on the receiving end of a scam attempt from someone trying to impersonate the SEC, you can also file a complaint with the SEC’s Office of Inspector General at www.sec.gov/oig or call the OIG’s toll-free hotline at (833) SEC-OIG1 (732-6441).

Con artists have used the names of real SEC employees and email messages that falsely appear to be from the SEC to trick victims into sending the fraudster’s money. Impersonation of US Government agencies and employees (as well as of legitimate financial services entities) is one common feature of advance fee solicitations and other fraudulent schemes. Even where the fraudsters do not request that funds be sent directly to them, they may use personal information they obtain to steal an individual’s identity or misappropriate their financial assets. — SEC

“The SEC does not seek money from any person or entity as a penalty or disgorgement for alleged wrongdoing outside of its formal Enforcement process,” the SEC department added.

“Be skeptical if you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the SEC and asking about your shareholdings, account numbers, PIN numbers, passwords, or other information that may be used to access your financial accounts.”

In July, the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division also warned investors of fraudsters impersonating registered investment professionals such as brokers and investment advisers.

The FBI alert followed a similar fraud alert issued by FINRA the same week regarding broker imposter scams using phishing sites impersonating brokers and doctored SEC or FINRA registration documents.

Victims or those who have information on a broker imposter scheme can report possible securities fraud to the SEC and online fraud to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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