On June 27, 2016, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued an alert for investors to be careful with any communications seemingly sent from the SEC. Government impersonators are targeting victims of previous frauds.

These impersonators are sending official-looking documents to investors, often claiming that they can help the investor recover their investment-related losses. But, of course, the investor must pay a fee first. Usually, this fee is disguised as some sort of tax, deposit, or refundable insurance bond that the investor must pay.

Another method these SEC impersonators are using is claiming to offer legal services. They claim they can help investors receive compensation relating to an SEC enforcement action or a class-action lawsuit. But, of course, the investor must pay a fee first. The SEC is currently aware of one such communication. It claims to offer legal services pertaining to the SEC’s recent enforcement action against Banc de Binary.

If you have any doubt whether a communication is actually from the SEC, there are a few ways you can check. You can call the SEC’s toll-free investor help line: (800) 732-0330 (or 1-202-551-6551 if you are not in the U.S.). Or you can use the SEC’s investor question form.

These communications usually look legitimate. The SEC impersonators are known to copy or imitate the SEC seal. They have forged signatures of SEC officials, and they often send emails that appear to come from real SEC email accounts. If the sender claims to be from a U.S. government agency but their email address doesn’t end in “.gov”, “fed.us”, or “.mil”, they are probably not who they say they are.
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If you do get a communication that seems suspicious, don’t just ignore it or delete it. Call the toll-free hotline of the SEC’s Office of Inspector General (OIG): (877) 442-0854. You can also submit a complaint form to the OIG online.

For more information about the SEC impersonators, you can consult How Fraudsters Try to Look Legit.