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Latest investment scam: Stealing money by telephone

August 06, 2013|By Walter Hamilton
  • Pay phones for inmates on a wall at the Fremont Police Detention Facility in Fremont, California.
Pay phones for inmates on a wall at the Fremont Police Detention Facility… (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)

In an age of rampant online investment fraud, it’s almost refreshing that the latest scam involves only a telephone.

Federal regulators are warning investors to beware of scammers pitching high-yielding certificates of deposit. The thieves pose as brokers of a big-name investment firm, then coax victims to reveal financial data so they can steal their identities and loot their bank accounts.

The twist is that the scammers steal money the old-fashioned way: by calling unsuspecting victims on the phone. It’s not clear whether the thieves have used cellphones or gone truly retro and relied on land lines.

"It appears that some fraudsters may be resorting to a time-tested method – the telephone call,” read the warning from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the financial industry-funded watchdog.

Some of the victims were customers of the unnamed brokerage firm for which the imposters claimed to be working.

Nice as the human touch is, FINRA advised investors to never share personal information over the phone.

"If you are not sure that the person on the other end of the line is a legitimate representative of your firm, quickly end the call and get in touch with your firm's customer service center using the contact information on your account statements or the firm's website," said Gerri Walsh, the group’s senior vice president of investor education.


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