The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has put out an investor alert warning against buying stocks in companies claiming to combat viral diseases. The self-regulatory organization says it knows of several possible schemes involving stock promotions employing tactics such as pump-and-dump scams to inflate share prices. The scammers will then sell their shares at a profit while leaving investors with shares that have lost their value.
Intensified news coverage of the recent Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome outbreak will likely have attracted the attention of stock scammers wanting to take advantage of people’s fears. To avoid falling victim to a viral disease stock scam, FINRA is offering several tips, including:
• Be wary of promotional materials, correspondence, and press releases from senders you don’t know. Watch out for communications that say little about the risks involved while only touting the positives. Getting a barrage of information about the same stock opportunities can also be a red flag.
• Make sure to know who is behind a company you are thinking of investing in. Do your research. Think twice if company officials have past criminal records or you hear anything negative in the news. Be on the look out for fake business addresses and phone numbers.
• A lot of stock pump-and-dump scams don’t trade on the NYSE or other registered national securities exchanges. Instead, you can find them on OTC quotations platforms or alternative trading systems.
• Find out whether the company submitted an SEC filing. Compare the information there with what’s provided in promotional materials and other communications you’ve received. Watch out for solicitations to get you to invest in products that are still being developed or if there are losses on balance sheets.
• Watch out if a company keeps changing its name or business focus.
• Make sure you read the fine print and be wary when name-dropping is used to gain investor confidence or boost legitimacy.
Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD LLP is a securities fraud law firm. Contact our fraud lawyers today to request your free case consultation.
Investment scammers busy pumping Ebola stocks amid panic, NY Post, August 14, 2014
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