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Investor Alert: SEC Impersonators on Social Media

The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA) is warning investors that fraudsters may attempt to impersonate the SEC or SEC officials on social media.  Fraudsters may attempt to set up fake profiles to perpetrate investment scams, manipulate markets, or otherwise spread misinformation.

We have issued several investor alerts in the past warning investors about fraudsters impersonating SEC officials in attempts to scam investors.  For example, certain impersonators have pretended to help investors “purchase stock” or “confirm trades,” and others have approached fraud victims to offer to help recover their losses in exchange for a fee. 

We also want to warn investors to exercise caution when relying on information posted on social media accounts claiming to belong to the SEC or SEC officials.  Fraudsters may set up fake profiles that include the SEC’s seal, link to the SEC’s actual website, or include the name or photo of an actual SEC official.  These fake accounts may attempt to hype up investment scams, manipulate markets or otherwise spread misinformation. 

For example, in recent days, we are aware of multiple attempts to create fake Twitter accounts for SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, who does not have an SEC-related Twitter account.[1]  SEC officials will never endorse specific investments on social media, they will never claim that specific companies are under investigation, and they will never release “breaking news” on their profiles. 

For a list of verified social media accounts used by the SEC or SEC officials, see www.sec.gov/opa/socialmedia.[2]

If you are unsure whether information posted on social media is affiliated with the SEC, call the SEC’s toll-free investor assistance line at (800) 732-0330 (or 1-202-551-6551 from outside of the U.S.), or email us at Help@SEC.gov.  If you have been contacted by someone pretending to be from the SEC, submit a complaint at www.sec.gov/oig to the SEC’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) or call the OIG’s toll-free hotline at (833) SEC-OIG1 (732-6441).  

Investors who learn of investing opportunities from social media should always be on the lookout for fraud. To report possible securities fraud, submit a complaint to the SEC.

Additional Information

Investor Alert: SEC Impersonators Pretend to Help Investors Buy Stock (April 2018)

Investor Alert: Investment Scams Involving Fake Forms 4 (November 2016)

Investor Alert: Beware of Government Impersonators Targeting Fraud Victims (June 2016)

Updated Investor Alert: SEC Warns of Government Impersonators (February 2016)

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

Report a possible securities fraud.

Visit Investor.gov, the SEC’s website for individual investors.

Check out the background, including registration or license status, of anyone recommending or selling an investment, using the search tool on Investor.gov.

Receive Investor Alerts and Bulletins from OIEA by email or RSS feed. Follow OIEA on Twitter @SEC_Investor_Ed. Like OIEA on Facebook at facebook.com/secinvestoreducation.

Ask OIEA a question.

 

[1] These fake Twitter profiles were named @JayClaytonSEC and @Jay_ClaytonSEC.

[2] Although this list includes SEC-related social media accounts of SEC Commissioners, the agency does not authorize or control those accounts, and postings on those accounts do not necessarily represent the views of the entire Commission.

 


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 concerning the meaning or application of a particular law or rule, please consult with an attorney who specializes in securities law.

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