FINRA Notice 21-03: Low-Priced Securities Fraud

FINRA Notice 21-03: Low-Priced Securities Fraud

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.”

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Cybersecurity

Lessons from FINRA’s Cybersecurity Conference

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.

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Compliance Surveillance

Compliance Surveillance Trends During COVID-19

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.

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FINRA Conference Call Part 2

Highlights from FINRA Small Firm Conference Call: Part 2

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.

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What is an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)? – Part II

[Continued from What is an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)? – Part I]

Online Platforms that Facilitate Trading in ICO Tokens are Not Registered Exchanges

There are no ICO platforms currently registered as exchanges. Further, the SEC has stated that it neither regulates these platforms as exchanges nor reviews the digital assets that may be listed or traded on these platforms. Many fraudulent platforms refer to themselves as exchanges to provide a sense of legitimacy and make investors assume they are regulated entities or meet the regulatory requirements and standards of a national securities exchange.

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