WASHINGTON, DC – November 5, 2014 – The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which maintains a special reserve fund mandated by Congress to protect the customers of insolvent brokerage firms, issued a warning today to consumers not to share personal information with websites for fictitious organizations that claim to restore funds to investors involved with a brokerage firm in liquidation.
Some of the Web sites may pose as SIPC and others posed as organizations with SIPC-like powers. SIPC is currently aware of two such websites which are falsely claiming to be customer protection entities. They are Alliant Trust Systems (http://allianttrustsystems.org/) and IAC International (http://iacinternational.org/).
These ongoing financial scams involve con artists falsely claiming to be a SIPC-like customer protection entity to trick victims, including non-U.S. investors, into giving the fraudsters access to brokerage accounts and sharing personally identifiable information. The fraudsters trick investors into sending them money and other assets. Many of these websites are hosted overseas and so not subject to U.S. authorities.
SIPC President Stephen Harbeck stated: "Any investor whose brokerage firm is being liquidated through SIPC who believes they are missing stocks or cash can find information about the proceeding on our website – www.sipc.org. Brokerage firm liquidations handled through SIPC do not require investors to pay a fee to recover assets. If any other supposed representative or website requests an upfront fee to recover assets or requests personal information, investors should be extremely wary to avoid becoming a victim."
Impersonation of legitimate companies is one of several characteristic features of advance fee fraud (http://www.sec.gov/answers/advancefeefraud.htm) solicitations and other fraudulent schemes. Even where the fraudsters do not request that funds be sent directly to them, they may use the personal information they obtain to steal the individual’s identity and then misappropriate his or her financial assets.
If you believe you are the victim of an online fraud, you can report it to the U.S. government at www.ic3.gov.
If you have been contacted by someone impersonating SIPC or for more information, contact SIPC at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 371-8300.