On Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a Chicago-area investment adviser, Anthony Fields, with fraudulently promoting more than $500 billion in fictitious securities on several social media sites, including LinkedIn, and issued two alerts and an investor bulletin regarding the risks investors and advisory firms face when using social media.
“Fraudsters are quick to adapt to new technologies to exploit them for unlawful purposes,” said Robert B. Kaplan, Co-Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit. “Social media is no exception, and today’s enforcement action reflects our determination to pursue fraudulent activity on new and evolving platforms.”
The SEC order against Fields alleges he made multiple fraudulent offers through his two sole proprietorships – Anthony Fields & Associates (AFA) and Platinum Securities Brokers. He provided false and misleading information to the public regarding assets under management, clients and operational history. Fields also did not maintain required records, failed to implement adequate compliance policies and procedures, and presented himself as a broker-dealer though not registered with the SEC as one.
The SEC has issued three new publications for both investment advisers and investors:
“Investment Adviser Use of Social Media” reviews concerns that may arise from use of social media by firms and their associates, and offers suggestions for complying with relevant federal securities laws.
“Social Media and Investing: Avoiding Fraud” aims to raise investor awareness of fraudulent investment schemes that use social media, and provides tips for checking the backgrounds of advisers and brokers.
“Social Media and Investing: Understanding Your Accounts” contains best practices including privacy settings, security tips, and password selection aimed to help social media users protect their personal information and avoid fraud.
For additional information on avoiding securities fraud, visit the SEC’s website for individual investors: www.investor.gov.