Attorney General Wilson warns investors against crisis-related scams

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)– The Office of South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson encourages the public to be cautious about new investment opportunities related to the pandemic as they say fraudsters may try to take advantage of the health crisis by promoted new products related to the pandemic.

The AG’s office says fraudsters may peddle supposed “miracle cures” to unsuspecting investors that often ring hollow. Authorities say these scams often include offers to invest in medical technology or healthcare companies by purchasing membership, stocks or through other investment vehicles such as cryptocurrency-related investments, or crowdfunding.

According to officials, these scams often share similar characteristics such as playing on fear, promoting safe returns regardless of the stock market, marketing trendy assets like cryptocurrency and promising a “passive income.”

The AG’s office offers a list of guidelines to help protect yourself from these scams:

  • Do not invest money you cannot afford to lose.
  • Do your research. Check out the individuals or companies behind the investment. Searching the web can reveal civil, criminal, or regulatory actions taken against companies or individuals.
  • Ask key questions about the business and its promoters before you hand over any money in a private placement offering.
  • Contact the Securities Division to learn more about the investment opportunity, the salesperson, and the promoter.
  • Before putting your money into a healthcare investment or any investment, ask questions about the risks and fees involved. Conduct your own independent research or seek the opinion of a financial professional who is registered with the Securities Division. Never invest in something you do not fully understand.
  • Be wary of participating in a general partnership or joint venture if you have no specific experience, knowledge or education in the industry sector – which is often the healthcare industry for coronavirus-related frauds – and would have to rely on others’ expertise.
  • Resist sales techniques that include repeated phone calls, cold calls, e-mails, or high-pressure sales pitches hyping the profitability of the deal or promising a sure thing.
  • As a general rule, do not give out personal information in response to random emails, texts, or phone calls even if they appear to be from a reputable individual or government organization.  Visit government websites directly for trustworthy information.
  • Remember that fraudsters can be quite good at producing professional-looking websites boasting current productivity levels and profits and containing professional appearing photos of vaccine or medical equipment production sites. These websites can easily be faked.
  • Read the fine print. Every investment is unique. Do not assume that what you have been presented with is the same or has similar terms as other offerings you may have seen.

The AG’s office has also provided the following list of resources to help protect yourself from getting involved in shady investments.

The AG’s office says you can verify the status of investment professionals and find out whether they have a history of customer harm by contacting the Securities Division at 803-734-9916 or go to www.scag.gov/registering-a-complaint.
Categories: State