FINRA recently released a podcast AML Update: The Latest Trends and Effective Practices . This podcast provides a great update on the current AML and fraud trends and best practices from Jason Foye, Senior Director of the National Cause and Finance Crimes Detection Program’s Special Investigative Unit . A few highlights from the AML update podcast: Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Priorities On June 30, 2021, FinCEN posted a bulletin that set out eight priorities, focused on threats to the U.S. financial system and national security. These priorities include corruption, cybercrime (including relevant cybersecurity and virtual currency considerations), foreign and Read more about FINRA Unscripted Podcast: AML Update[…]
On January 10, 2022 the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) released its annual list of top investor threats for 2022 and urged caution before purchasing popular and volatile unregulated investments – especially those involving cryptocurrency and digital assets. NASAA also announced guidance for investors, including steps to take to protect from fraud in the new year. “The most common telltale sign of an investment scam is an offer of guaranteed high returns with no risk. It is important for investors to understand what they are investing in and with whom they are investing,” said Melanie Senter Lubin, NASAA President Read more about NASAA Reveals Top Investor Threats for 2022[…]
FINRA released regulatory notice 21-03, FINRA Urges Firms to Review Their Policies and Procedures Relating to Red Flags of Potential Securities Fraud Involving Low-Priced Securities, discussing issues with these securities offerings and fraud. Specifically, including those involving COVID-19 and cannabis related businesses, which appear to have been part of potential pump-and-dump or market manipulation schemes that target unsuspecting investors.
In the notice, FINRA states that “Low-priced securities tend to be volatile and trade in low volumes. It may be difficult to find accurate information about them. There is a long history of bad actors exploiting these features to engage in fraudulent manipulations of low-priced securities. Frequently, these actors take advantage of trends and major events — such as the growth in cannabis-related businesses or the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — to perpetrate the fraud.”
As the end of the year approaches, it is a good time to revisit cybersecurity focus points and remind firms and their representatives of potential weaknesses. Cybersecurity is no longer a big firm program. Cyber-attacks occur from one-man shops to multibillion-dollar financial institutions.
The messages are clear. Sales practice concerns, fraud, and operational issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic have arrived. Compliance professionals who are responsible for the surveillance and review of targeted areas of the compliance program should understand what may be coming down the pipe and ensure that their programs are sufficiently flexible to identify potential red flags.
Earlier this month, FINRA hosted a Small Firm Conference Call to discuss updates and implications of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). If you were not able to listen to the call live, a replay recording is available on demand. This recording provides and discusses many highlights noted in the FAQs Related to Coronavirus Pandemic.