‘Impostor schemes’ targeting investors on the rise in SC, attorney general’s office warns

Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 7:08 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - Online “impostor schemes” targeting investors are growing more prevalent and sophisticated, South Carolina’s attorney general’s office warned.

The schemes usually involve a scammer posing as a regulator or registered firm by creating a fake website or listing other fraudulent information like business location or phone number. Those websites may use domain names similar to those of legitimate sites.

Technology is helping scammers make the schemes harder to spot, the attorney general’s office said.

“Although the Internet has many useful purposes, not everything on the Internet is what it seems,” Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a news release. “Unfortunately, technology has given bad actors more tools to defraud the public, which is why it is important to take steps to verify the identity of individuals or organizations before sending money.”

A recent example the attorney general’s office cited involved a fraudulent entity called Central Trade and Financial Authority, which was shut down for allegedly claiming to be headquartered in South Carolina and using a fraudulent phone number. The securities division of the attorney general’s office issued a cease-and-desist order against the entity.

Wilson’s office said consumers should be wary of mistakes like misspellings and grammatical errors and should independently verify information claiming to be from a business or agency by looking up that agency’s phone number or email address from another source.

Consumers should also avoid giving out personal information to random emails, phone calls or text messages, even those that appear to be from legitimate sources.

The attorney general’s office did not specify how many additional schemes it is aware of.

Consumers who may have been contacted as part of an impostor scheme can call the securities division of the attorney general’s office at 803-734-9916.

Copyright 2021 WCSC. All rights reserved.