WASHINGTON, D.C. - November 18, 2011 – The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which maintains a special reserve fund mandated by Congress to protect the customers of insolvent brokerage firms, today reminded consumers -- particularly those who have been swindled in investments schemes – to avoid individuals claiming to represent SIPC when asking for personal information and payments in order to facilitate the return of funds lost in investment scams.
SIPC officials continue to be contacted by individuals about this scam. Individuals being contacted were not involved in SIPC liquidation cases and the fraud has not involved SIPC members.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also has seen an increase in investment scams where individuals are contacted by people who claim to be government representatives and ask for an upfront fee or personal information as part of an investment offer or to return lost or stolen funds. For the SEC scam warning on this topic, go to http://www.sec.gov/answers/impersonators.htm.
In recent cases referred to SIPC, the individual is contacted by someone claiming to be with SIPC or a related entity and told their stolen funds have been transferred to an offshore account and, in order to retrieve them, they must create a separate bank account with the offshore bank to have the funds transferred back to their possession. They are told if they wish to facilitate the transfer, they will need to fill out a form with personal information and send it back. An example of one of the phony SIPC-related entities being used is the "International Fund Transfer Regulator – Securities Investor Protection Corporation" or "IFTR-SiPC."
SIPC President Stephen Harbeck said: "All bona fide SIPC-related liquidation proceedings are announced publicly and information is posted to the SIPC website at www.sipc.org. Any individuals contacted by supposed representatives of SIPC who request an upfront fee or personal information should be extremely wary. Under no circumstances do we actually make any such request of an individual."
The recent scam attempts are similar in many respects to the earlier "advance fee fraud" about which SIPC warned investors in June 2011. In that scheme, individuals were contacted by email or phone and asked to pay a fee up-front to recover their lost money. Within a few weeks of declining to pay the fee, they are contacted by someone claiming to be from SIPC saying they have seized the assets of the company that defrauded them and wish to return the money to investors. The phony "SIPC agent" then requested that the individual fill out a form with personal information and send it back.
SIPC said that it has referred this scheme to the proper authorities for investigation.