Citing the continuing headlines and hype around cryptocurrencies, the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) on Thursday reminded retail investors to be cautious about cryptocurrency-related investments.
“The recent wild price fluctuations and speculation in cryptocurrency-related investments can easily tempt unsuspecting investors to rush into an investment they may not fully understand,” says Joseph Borg, president of NASAA and director of the Alabama Securities Commission, in a statement.
“Cryptocurrencies and investments tied to them are high-risk products with an unproven track record and high price volatility. Combined with a high risk of fraud, investing in cryptocurrencies is not for the faint of heart,” he adds.
Indeed, a survey of securities regulators found that 94% believe that there is a “high risk of fraud” involving cryptocurrencies, NASAA says. It adds that “regulators also were unanimous in their view” that this currently unregulated space needs more regulation to ensure investor protection.
Last month, NASAA singled out cryptocurrency-related investments and initial coin offerings as emerging investor threats for 2018. The Canadian Securities Administrators and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have also issued investor warnings in the past month.
“Investors should go beyond the headlines and hype to understand the risks associated with investments in cryptocurrencies, as well as cryptocurrency futures contracts and other financial products where these virtual currencies are linked in some way to the underlying investment,” Borg says.
SEC officials endorsed NASAA’s warning. In a statement published Thursday, Jay Clayton, SEC chairman, along with commissioners Kara Stein and Michael Piwowar, called the alert, “a timely and thoughtful reminder to Main Street investors to exercise caution.”
“The NASAA release also reminds investors that when they are offered and sold securities they are entitled to the benefits of state and federal securities laws, and that sellers and other market participants must follow these laws. Unfortunately, it is clear that many promoters of ICOs and others participating in the cryptocurrency-related investment markets are not following these laws,” the SEC statement warns.
“The SEC and state securities regulators are pursuing violations, but we again caution you that, if you lose money, there is a substantial risk that our efforts will not result in a recovery of your investment,” it adds.