NASAA: Watch Out For Ebola-Related Scams, Especially On The Internet

cautionflagThe North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) today warned the investing public to watch out for Ebola-related scams.

“Past experience tells us that periods of uncertainty or fear are prime time for con artist looking to make a quick score,” said William Beatty, NASAA president and Washington Securities director. “Investors should approach with caution any unsolicited Ebola-related investment opportunities, especially those received through the Internet.”

NASAA’s membership consists of the securities administrators of all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the provinces and territories of Canada and Mexico. Working across borders, the association’s membership was instrumental in warning the public last year about the Profitable Sunrise scheme that targeted Christian investors.

Individual NASAA members routinely file actions against scams of all stripes and publish warnings about them.

On the Ebola front, NASAA said “an analysis of Internet domain names by state and Canadian securities regulators found nearly 1,200 domains with ‘Ebola’ in their name have been registered with top-level domains, such as .com, .net, .org since April 2014.

“About 1,000 of those registration have occurred since July, as awareness of the crisis spread,” NASAA continued. Of these sites, 184 were identified by NASAA’s Internet Fraud Investigations project group as suspicious.”

Jake van der Laan, the director of enforcement for the New Brunswick Financial and Consumer Services Commission, is chair of NASAA’s Internet Fraud Investigations project group.

“Our system identified a number of sites that may be suspect,” van der Laan said. “Although we have not investigated any of these sites, a review of domain names indicates that there certainly appear to be those intent on raising Ebola-related funds or otherwise trying to leverage the crisis for financial gain.” reported on Sept. 25 that at least two MLM or direct-sales firms or affiliates had caught the attention of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Ebola-related treatment claims.

For its part, NASAA said it is concerned that securities scams will follow the public’s general concerns about Ebola.

“Pie in the sky promises of quick wealth generally are red flags signaling fraud ahead,” Beatty said.

In April NASAA issued a caution on virtual currency.

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