The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the United States has issued a warning regarding fraudulent investment schemes utilizing cryptocurrency.
Given the recent price increases in several crypto assets, the regulator believes that some investors may be experiencing FOMO (fear of missing out).
Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA) and the Division of Enforcement's Retail Strategy Task Force (RSTF) published an Investor Alert on cryptocurrency investment frauds.
According to the warning, “Fraudsters continue to exploit the increasing popularity of digital assets to entice retail investors into schemes, frequently resulting in severe losses,” and it goes on to say:
“Given the surge in the price of some digital assets in recent years, some investors may be fearful about losing out on a chance to become extremely wealthy.”
The notification describes several red flags of fraud. A common warning indicator of fraud is “guaranteed substantial investment returns... with little or no risk.”
According to the SEC, fraudsters may even post false historical returns on their websites to demonstrate great investment returns.
Another red flag is unlicensed or unregistered vendors.
According to the SEC, “unlicensed, unregistered salespeople perpetrate the majority of securities fraud aimed at individual investors in the United States.”
In addition, to attract investors, fraudsters frequently fake investment returns. The SEC further said, "If an investment 'opportunity' seems too good to be true, it usually is."
Finally, the letter warns of "false testimonials." The SEC cautioned that while making an investment choice, investors should never depend only on testimonials, elaborating:
“Fraudsters will occasionally pay people – such as actors posing as ordinary people who have become billionaires, social media influencers, and celebrities to promote investment on social media or in a video.”