New Investment Scam Outed

There have been banking scams from Nigerian princes, phishing schemes ostensibly from the IRS, software update alert calls allegedly from Microsoft and now we apparently have fraudulent investment pitches from… FINRA.

That’s right – the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has issued an Investor Alert warning investors to beware of financial scams in which con artists are posing as regulators to make fraudulent investment pitches.

In an example provided with the alert, “financial fraudsters” used FINRA’s name and logo in correspondence – including a fake signature from FINRA President and Chief Executive Officer Robert W. Cook – to create the false impression that FINRA provided guarantees related to an investment opportunity that was, in fact, an advance-fee scam.

Recently, FINRA says it received a call from an investor targeted in such a scheme. The con artist mailed the investor an official-looking letter, purportedly from FINRA’s CEO, touting a guarantee. The letter contained “numerous” telltale signs of fraud, including the repeated use of “guarantee,” and the incorrect name of FINRA and incorrect FINRA leadership titles (“Director of FinRA”?).

In a separate fraud, e-mail pitches that purported to originate from FINRA’s CEO portrayed FINRA as a “recognized financial manager of the IMF,” notifying potential victims that “approval has been granted for the release and payment of your outstanding inheritance fund” – though you had to fly to another country to claim the “inheritance.” Oh, and scammees were directed to provide personal information, including a copy of their passport – a common tactic used in phishing scams.

FINRA offers a Scam Meter tool to help investors assess whether an opportunity is too good to be true. It also has a Risk Meter which determines if an investor shares characteristics and behavior traits that have been shown to make some individuals particularly vulnerable to investment fraud.

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