NASAA Cautions Investors to Watch for Scams in Wake of Hurricane Harvey

NASAA Also Extends Exam Windows for Candidates Affected by Storm

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 30, 2017)—In the wake of widespread damage caused by Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey in Texas, the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) today cautioned investors to watch out for opportunistic investment scams.

“As we are seeing in Texas, natural disasters bring out the best in people, with neighbors helping neighbors. Unfortunately, we know from experience that disasters also can bring out the worst in people, particularly those seeking to profit from the misfortune of others,” said Mike Rothman, NASAA President and Minnesota Commissioner of Commerce. “Unsolicited investment offers seeking to capitalize on the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey should be approached with extreme caution.”

In particular, Rothman urged investors to watch for red flags of hurricane-related scams, including unsolicited email, social media messages, crowdfunding pitches or telephone calls promoting investment pools or bonds to help storm victims, water-removal or purification technologies, electricity-generating devices and distressed real estate remediation programs.

Rothman said scam artists also may linger to prey on storm victims who anticipate receiving large lump-sum insurance settlements. “The potential for fraud remains even after the skies have cleared,” Rothman said. “Be wary of any promoter promising quick and high returns on your investments.”

NASAA also cautioned about fraudulent charitable solicitations that prey on the goodness of people seeking to help those in need. “There will be fraudulent solicitations for charities in Harvey’s wake,” Rothman said. “The best advice is to do your research. Give to those charitable organizations that are registered properly with state authorities. As with any charitable contribution, those who want to contribute to relief efforts should send contributions to only those charities with an established track record of making sure the donations get to the victims.”

NASAA offered three quick tips to help investors avoid disaster-related scams:

  • Delete unsolicited emails or social media messages and hang up on aggressive cold callers promoting hurricane-related investments, especially those from small companies touting unproven or new technologies or products.
  • Use common sense. Claims of guaranteed returns or low/no investment risk are classic red flags. Every investment involves some degree of risk.
  • Do your homework. Contact your state or provincial securities regulator to check that both the seller and investment are licensed and registered. If not, they may be operating illegally. Contact information is available on NASAA’s website.

Separately, NASAA announced that it is extending the examination enrollment windows for the NASAA Series 63, 65, and 66 examinations for candidates in counties and regions declared disaster areas by state or federal governments as a result of the storm.

Individuals who have an examination window due to expire between August 25, 2017 and September 22, 2017 will have their enrollment windows extended to November 6, 2017. NASAA may provide additional extensions as more information becomes available.

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