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SEC Releases Updated List of Fake Firms, Bogus Regulators

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The Securities and Exchange Commission updated Monday its list of fake firms, unregistered businesses hawking investment deals and bogus regulators following a similar alert in November.

Included in the fresh list are 11 firms; four fake versions of real firms, some using Manhattan addresses; and nine fictitious regulators, such as a nonexistent “Federal Regulatory Board.”

The list of bogus or misleading entities have come to the agency’s attention through investor or foreign securities regulatory complaints and is known as the “Public Alert: Unregistered Soliciting Entities (PAUSE) list.”

It contains the names of scores of entities, listed alphabetically, amassed over time.

Some of the entities claim to offer SEC-endorsed investments, but are not even registered, according to the agency, which warned investors that federal government agencies don’t endorse securities, issuers, products, professional credentials, firms or individuals.

The soliciting entities are not even registered in the U.S. in many cases, the SEC warned.

The goal in publishing the list is to inform investors before they part with their money.

“By making this information readily available through the PAUSE list, investors are better able to evaluate solicitations to buy and sell securities and avoid being a victim of fraud,” stated Jennifer Diamantis, chief of the SEC’s Office of Market Intelligence, in a statement.

Generally, the newest additions to the PAUSE list provided inaccurate information about their affiliation, location or registration, based on SEC staff investigations.

As a caveat, the SEC said that inclusion on the PAUSE list does not mean the SEC has found violations of federal securities laws or made a judgment about the merits of any securities being offered.

Some of the entities on the PAUSE list have legitimate-sounding names using LLCs, partnerships or law firms, according to the list itself.

Some raise more suspicions, as they do not have a phone or email, such as Orient Acquisitions Group on Avenue of the Stars in Los Angeles. One entity, 365Tradeposition, appeared to have taken down its website but others, like Darwin Acquisition Group of Little Rock, Arkansas, have not, and appear to be using stock images found on other internet sites based on a Google image search.

Separately, the impersonator firms or “spoofers” actually copy the name of genuine firms or change it a bit but use different addresses in different states, such as the fake Arlington Securities Group supposedly at 15 Wall Street in New York. The real Arlington Securities Inc. is located in St. Louis, and its registration information can be found on the SEC’s Edgar database.

Also, newly identified fake regulators such as the Intercontinental Financial Protection Commission, Regional Financial Services Commission and the International Securities Board are now on the SEC PAUSE list. Some even have websites that might look legitimate but are not, such as the Overseas Financial & Regulatory Oversight Board.