WASHINGTON, D.C. - January 29, 2004 - The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which maintains a special reserve fund mandated by Congress to protect the customers of insolvent brokerage firms, said today that it has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate a "look-alike" Web site for a fictitious organization, the International Brokerage Association, that closely mimics the official SIPC Web site's appearance, content and functions.

SIPC officials said that the phony Web site apparently was being used to encourage investors to part with their money and securities under the guise of doing business with a non-existent Hong Kong brokerage firm.

SIPC President Stephen Harbeck said: "The Web site that we are concerned about is a complete fabrication and should not be relied upon by any investor in the U.S. or overseas as an information resource. These people have literally hijacked the look, feel and content of the SIPC Web site with the apparent motive of confusing investors into doing business with a phony brokerage firm. We have asked the FBI and SEC to investigate this matter and intend to use every available means to shut down this Web site and to make sure that the parties involved are held responsible for this scheme."