Internet scams are top threat to investors, NASAA says

Internet- and social media-based frauds are the top threats to investors this year, according to enforcement officials surveyed by the North American Securities Administrators Association.

The group, which polled its state and provincial securities regulator members, said that in particular, investors should be on the lookout for investment schemes involving precious metals, cryptocurrencies, promissory notes and foreign exchange markets.

The survey found that self-directed individual retirement accounts, which lack the services and protection of traditional IRAs, can be fertile soil for scammers, especially those involving cryptocurrency-related and precious metals-based investments.

[More: SEC, Feds charge senior GPB executives with fraud]

Enforcement officials said they expect to see a resurgence of high-yield foreign exchange and cryptocurrency-related schemes targeting investors this year that are disguised as membership or investment programs.

According to the NASAA survey, 82% of state and provincial securities regulators in the U.S., Canada and Mexico anticipate that bad actors will continue to attempt to leverage investor fear and anxiety related to changes in financial markets and the economy due to COVID-19 to illegally sell securities this year.

[More: Promissory notes, Ponzi schemes top investor threats for 2020, says NASAA]

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