SEC warns of social media schemes after fraud case

Posted Jan. 04, 2012, at 9:08 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Regulators are warning the public to be wary of social media sites that could be offering bogus investment schemes.

The warning follows civil charges filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against an Illinois-based investment adviser who tried to sell fraudulent securities through Linkedin.

The SEC accuses Anthony Fields of offering more than $500 billion in phony securities to investors through the popular social media site. No one bought the investments though several potential buyers expressed interest, the SEC says.

Fields also provided false information about the assets managed by his firm on its website and in regulatory filings, the SEC said. The agency also accused Fields of falsely portraying himself as an investment adviser registered with the SEC and of failing to maintain required books and records.

Fields couldn’t be reached for a response. He isn’t represented by a lawyer, according to the SEC.

SEC officials say they have detected more fraud cases involving the use of social media. The rise in such cases comes as investment advisers are increasingly using social media to communicate with clients and promote their services.

“In our investigations, we’re seeing more and more of it,” said Robert Kaplan, a co-chief of the asset management unit in the SEC’s enforcement division.

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