The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) is warning investors that a scammer -- or perhaps a group of scammers -- is preying on people who have already been victimized by previous investment scams, calling them or sending them unsolicited emails in an attempt to steal their money and their most sensitive personal and financial information.
SIPC officials said a number of individuals who have been targeted in this new phishing scam claim someone posing as an SIPC investigator called or emailed them, telling them that the agency had seized the assets of a company that had defrauded the potential victim. The scammer then asks the would-be, two-time victim to pay a fee and to provide certain personal information, after which the caller promises to return the investor’s lost money.
One recipient of this new con, having already lost money in an investment scam, was understandably suspicious, and contacted SIPC to see if the come-on was legit. Another, who was “phished” by email, had never been an investment scam victim, but still contacted the SIPC.
The masterminds of this latest scam are persistent. SIPC officials said that when people who have been contacted initially ignored the request to send in a fee for recovery of their losses, they were contacted a week or so later by phone. In the follow-up call, the scammer claimed to be an SIPC agent and then made another request for the fee and for other personal information.
"When the liquidation of a brokerage firm is handled by SIPC, investors with missing stocks or cash do not pay a fee for recovery of those assets," said, SIPC President Stephen Harbeck. He advises investors be "very wary" if they're contacted by someone claiming to represent the SIPC or anyone asking for upfront fees or any personal information.
SIPC officials said the case has been turned over to the Department of Justice for further investigation.
A SIPC source said it is not clear whether anyone has actually lost money as a result of this latest scam.
SIPC was established by Congress in 1970 to act as a trustee or to work with independent court-appointed trustees in recovering investor funds in brokerage insolvency cases. Over the years, the agency has recovered $109 billion in assets for over 739,000 investors.