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WSJ Analysis Finds Forged Comments on Fiduciary Regulation

The Wall Street Journal says that “a significant number” of comments posted criticizing the fiduciary rule weren’t made by the individuals named — though it’s based on a pretty small sample.

“Significant” in this case means 40% of the individuals who responded to a survey (subscriber-only content) last week conducted by research firm Mercury Analytics for the Journal. However, that’s 40% of a mere 50 people who responded to the survey – meaning that 20 said they didn’t post the comment listed under their name, address, phone number and email.

The Journal survey was sent to 345 people among more than 3,100 comments. The surveys were sent to those identified by the Journal as those who appeared to be unaffiliated with industry or consumer groups or firms. Most of the 345 comments were critical of the fiduciary rule, according to the report.

The report offered no conclusions as to who might be posting the fake comments, or why they did so, though it says such public comments can influence the outcome of regulations. A Journal investigation has also reportedly identified and analyzed thousands of fraudulent posts on issues such as FCC net neutrality rules and payday lending. Worth noting: Submitting fraudulent statements or representations to the federal government is a felony.

The Labor Department removes fraudulent comments brought to the agency’s attention, according to the report.

Not that all of the “fake” comments weren’t representative of the sentiments of those they were attributed to. The Journal notes that some of those surveyed said they liked the comments attributed to them, even though they hadn’t filed them.