Beware Social Media Scams


The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged an Illinois-based advisor with selling fictitious securities via social media. Anthony Fields, CPA, doing business as Anthony Fields & Associations and Platinum Securities Brokers offered over $500 billion of phony securities through a variety of social media sites, including using LinkedIn discussions to promote nonexistent “bank guarantees” and “medium-term notes.” Many potential buyers indicated they were interested.

Fields also posted false and misleading information about his firms’ assets under management, clients, and operating history in order to lure customers, according to the SEC.

“Fraudsters are quick to adapt to new technologies to exploit them for unlawful purposes,” Robert B. Kaplan, Co-Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit, was quoted as saying, adding: “Social media is no exception’.”

Experts have testified before Congress warning that social media sites are tailor-made for fraud. Anybody with a computer can conduct internet investment fraud. The SEC has published investor alerts about the dangers of investment fraud via social media sites, but most investors do not read them. Congress inexplicably made it easier for fraudulent investment promoters by enacting a “crowd funding” bill that would allow them to solicit up to $1 million of investor capital over the internet without any disclosure requirements.

Investor attorney J. Boyd Page, senior partner of Atlanta-based Page Perry, observed: “The securities laws replaced the old axiom of ‘let the buyer beware’ with the requirement of full and fair disclosure of all material facts. Full disclosure should apply even more strongly to investment offerings made on social media sites. Congress makes a serious mistake by exempting so-called crowd funding from this requirement. Such a crowd funding exemption would, in effect, establish a ‘free fraud zone’ for unscrupulous scam artist. Investors should not purchase investments promoted on social media sites unless they are willing to lose every penny they invest.”

Page Perry is an Atlanta-based law firm with over 170 years collective experience protecting investor rights and fighting Wall Street greed.