The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is issuing this updated Investor Alert to help investors identify fraudsters’ unauthorized use of the SEC seal as a way to convince prospective customers that a fraud, including an advance-fee loan scam, is legitimate.
The SEC has issued several related warnings about scams employing the SEC seal or making phony claims of endorsement by the SEC, including letters purporting to be signed by the SEC Inspector General and an SEC Commissioner, and fraudulent investment offers implying an SEC endorsement. The SEC does not “approve” or “endorse” any particular securities, issuers, products, loans, services, professional credentials, firms or individuals, and does not allow private entities to use its government seal.
Before taking any action based on correspondence purporting to come from the SEC, contact the SEC online or call 1-800-SEC-0330. Fake SEC correspondence may look authentic and include a link to the SEC’s website, www.sec.gov. Email messages may appear to come from SEC email accounts. Letters may imitate the official SEC seal and forge signatures of SEC officials. If you are unsure whether correspondence appearing to be from the SEC is authentic, submit a question online to the SEC or call the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330 (or 1-202-551-6551 if calling from outside of the United States).
For additional information on fraudsters’ unauthorized use of regulator seals or credentials, see: “Fake Seals and Phony Numbers: How Fraudsters Try to Look Legit.”
For additional information on advance-fee loan scams, see the Federal Trade Commission’s “Six Sure Signs of an Advance-Fee Loan Scam” and other resources.
To report a possible securities fraud, ask a question, or report a problem concerning your investments, your investment account or a financial professional, please visit http://www.sec.gov/complaint/select.shtml.
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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.