Amid the ongoing threat of Covid-19-related investment scams, the U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. (FINRA) and North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) are issuing a joint warning to investors.
“With the world focused on the Covid-19 pandemic, fraudsters continue to peddle supposed miracle cures or purportedly innovative technologies are preying upon unsuspecting investors,” the warning said.
The regulators said that investors should be wary of schemes, being touted online and via social media, that claim to be raising capital for companies that are combatting Covid-19.
These schemes may include offerings that involve limited partnerships, stock, private placements, initial coin offerings (ICOs) or other crypto-related investments, or crowdfunding investments.
Many of the pandemic-related schemes uncovered by state and provincial regulators aim to capitalize on investor fear and anxiety, “by promoting safe returns independent of the stock market and the economy,” the regulators noted.
They also aim to jump on trends, such as cryptoassets or complex investment programs involving foreign currencies, that are “very unfamiliar to most inexperienced retail investors.”
These schemes often promise “passive income” or monthly “cash flow” that may appeal to investors suffering due to the economic fallout from the pandemic, and they often misrepresent the risks, the two regulators said.
Even when offerings are legal, investors should remember that many are highly speculative, they noted.
Among other things, the alert advises investors to do their research before investing and not to risk money that they can’t afford to lose.