Investor Alert: Watch Out For False Claims About SEC And CFTC Endorsements Used To Promote Digital Asset Investments

10/11/2018

The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) Office of Customer Education and Outreach warn investors to watch out for false claims about agency actions and endorsements related to digital assets.  Fraudsters may use false claims to lure investors into purchasing digital assets and to artificially raise their value. “Digital assets” include crypto-currencies, coins, and tokens such as those offered in so called initial coin offerings (ICOs).

The SEC and CFTC staff are aware of fraudsters making false claims about SEC or CFTC actions and endorsements related to digital assets.  Examples of these false claims may include:

  • Having advance knowledge of future agency actions to approve new financial products that derive their value from digital assets.
  • Using the SEC or CFTC seal on promotional materials related to digital assets.
  • Advertising that agency officials are working with certain digital industry participants to bring their financial products to the market.

Be skeptical of anyone attempting to sell you digital assets, or any investment, that makes claims about future SEC or CFTC actions.  Both agencies will announce any official actions, including those regarding digital assets, through official government sources such as an agency press release, the Federal Register, their official government websites (SEC.gov, Investor.gov, or CFTC.gov), or authorized public statements by the each agency’s leadership.  Also, federal government agencies, including the SEC and CFTC, do not endorse or sponsor any particular securities, issuers, products, services, professional credentials, firms, or individuals.  Real government officials or staff would never:

  • Ask for money over the phone or by email
  • Ask for money because of new regulation or tax
  • Try to collect fees for trades or transactions
  • Demand immediate payment
  • Suggest payment by virtual currency, prepaid credit cards, or gift cards
  • Request copies of your Social Security card, Passport, or tax forms via email
  • Endorse an investment, product, or service

Do not trust information provided by someone contacting you with an investment idea when that person claims to be affiliated with any federal government agency, and always be cautious about providing personal information to anyone you do not personally know. 

  • You should verify any information you read regarding an SEC action reported by a third party through official SEC sources.  If you need assistance verifying information about an SEC action, call OIEA at 1-800-732-0330 or email at Help@SEC.gov.
  • If you need assistance verifying information about a CFTC action, call toll-free by dialing 866-FON-CFTC (866-366-2382) or email consumers@cftc.gov.
  • If you have been contacted by someone pretending to be from the SEC, submit a complaint  to the SEC’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) online at www.sec.gov/oig or call the OIG’s toll-free hotline at 833-SEC-OIG1 (833-732-6441).

Additional Information

Investor Alert: When Engaging With the SEC on Social Media, Use Our Verified Accounts and Be Alert for Impersonators

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.

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.
 


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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