The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is issuing this Investor Alert to warn investors that fraudsters sometimes pose as SEC employees. Do not send money, or personal information, to anyone claiming to be from the SEC without verifying their identity using the steps described in this Alert.
SEC staff are aware of ongoing scams in which con artists have used the names of real SEC employees and spoofed SEC email addresses to trick victims into sending the fraudsters money. Impersonation of U.S. Government agencies and employees (as well as of legitimate financial services entities) is one common feature of advance fee solicitations and other fraudulent schemes. Even where the fraudsters do not request that funds be sent directly to them, they may use the personal information they obtain to steal the individual’s identity or misappropriate his or her financial assets.
The SEC will not ask you to send us money without a valid court or SEC order. The SEC does not endorse investment offers, assist in the purchase or sales of securities, confirm trades, or participate in money transfers. Also, SEC staff do not make unsolicited communications, including emails or phone calls, asking for payments related to enforcement actions or seeking detailed personal and financial information, such as shareholdings and account or PIN numbers. Some scammers attempt to deceive and defraud unwary investors using websites and e-mail addresses ending in “.us” or “.org” and containing “.gov” as part of the domain address, or with “spoofed” email addresses ending in “.gov”, “.mil”, or “fed.us”.
If you receive a call or email from someone claiming to be from the SEC (or another government agency), always verify the person’s identity. Use the SEC’s personnel locator, (202) 551-6000, to verify whether the caller is an SEC staff member and to speak with him or her directly. Also, you can call the SEC at (800) SEC-0330 or email Help@SEC.gov for assistance.
If you have been contacted by someone misrepresenting himself as an SEC staff member, please 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).
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: Beware of Companies Using the SEC Seal (April 2015)
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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.