Virginia SCC joins task force cracking down on COVID-19 investment scams

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The State Corporation Commission Division of Securities and Retail Franchising urges Virginians to do their homework before making any investment.

Securities regulators are stepping up efforts to protect investors during this pandemic. The Division has joined an international enforcement task force of state and other securities regulators recently organized by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA).

The focus is to protect investors from scammers seeking to capitalize on COVID-19 fears.

“Don’t let panic, fear and uncertainty guide your investment decisions. Rely on research rather than personal feelings,” said Ron Thomas, Division director. “We are pleased to join forces with our colleagues in NASAA’s COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force and are committed to protecting Virginians from opportunists seeking to profit from this crisis.”

The Division is among the many members of NASAA, which is comprised of state and provincial securities regulators in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The COVID-19 task force was formed to identify and stop potential threats to investors stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Among other things, task force members will identify websites and social media posts that may offer or promote unregistered or fraudulent investments related to COVID-19.

Investment scams involving COVID-19 likely will include telltale signs similar to other fraudulent investments.  Thomas urges Virginians to ask the following questions before making any investment:

  • Does the investment offer promise a guaranteed high return with little or no risk?  All investments carry risk that you may lose some or all of your money.  No one can guarantee an investment return.
  • Is there a sense of urgency or limited availability of detailed information about the investment?   If someone offers you a “can’t miss” investment opportunity and pressures you to invest right now, don’t be afraid to walk away.
  • Are the person or company offering the investment and the investment itself properly licensed or registered?  In Virginia, you can find out by contacting the Division of Securities and Retail Franchising in Richmond at 804-371-9051 or toll-free (in Virginia) at 1-800-552-7945 or online at scc.virginia.gov.

“Before making any investment, research the investment and the person or company offering it and know where your money is going, how it will be used and how you can get it back.  Always verify that the investment and the person offering it are registered by the appropriate securities regulator,” Thomas said.

Thomas encourages investors to report any suspected fraudulent COVID-19 or other investment opportunities.

“Reporting suspicious COVID-19 related investment offers is important to help us investigate fraudulent activities and protect our citizens from falling victim to financial fraud in these unprecedented times,” he said.

Virginians who see – or suspect they have fallen victim to – COVID-19 related or other investment scams can contact the Division of Securities and Retail Franchising at the phone numbers or website above.

For more information, investors also may visit the NASAA website.


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