North American securities regulators have acted on more than 200 pandemic-related schemes to defraud investors and consumers, many of them in Canada.
The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) said this week that its Covid-19 Enforcement Task Force — formed in April — has found 244 fraud schemes and taken 220 actions, ranging from cease-and-desist orders to referrals to other regulators.
Investment-related schemes accounted for 154 of the 244 that were identified. The schemes covered 44 jurisdictions across Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
Jake van der Laan, chief information officer with the New Brunswick Financial and Consumer Services Commission and chair of NASAA’s Enforcement Technology Project Group, said Canadian task force members accounted for more than one-quarter of the actions taken. Some of these involved disrupting scams promoted on social media.
Many scams play into widespread anxiety and “exploit trendy assets such as cryptocurrencies or mysterious programs involving forex trading and even investments powered by futuristic artificial intelligence — the types of products that may sound appealing, but also the types of products unfamiliar to inexperienced retail investors,” said Joe Rotunda, director of enforcement for the Texas State Securities Board and vice chair of NASAA’s enforcement section, in a statement.