SEC warns of scammers pretending to be the federal government in messages and calls

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Securities and Exchange Commission warns investors to beware of con artists posing as government officials in phone calls and messages, marking latest effort by fraudsters using government authority to defraud ordinary Americans .

The alert cites deceptive emails, letters, phone calls and voicemail messages that appear to be from the market regulator. The posts purport to raise concerns about suspicious activity or unauthorized transactions on people’s checking or cryptocurrency accounts.

“SEC personnel do not make unsolicited communications – including phone calls, voicemail messages, or e-mails – requesting payments related to enforcement actions, offering to confirm transactions, or seeking personal information and financial details, ”the SEC investor said. alert published Friday. “Be skeptical if you are contacted by someone claiming to be an SEC member and asking for your participations, account numbers, PINs, passwords, or other information that can be used to access your financial accounts.”

The SEC said anyone who receives an unsolicited message or call from someone claiming to be with the SEC can call the agency’s staff locator to determine if the person actually belongs to the SEC. The SEC whistleblower also encouraged people to email its [email protected] account or call the agency to verify communications.

The agency focused on preventing market manipulation is not alone in dealing with scammers claiming to be federal government. Earlier this month, FBI officials said they learned of a software misconfiguration that allowed a hacker to send fake emails from an “@ ic.fbi” email account. gov “.

“While the illegitimate email came from a server operated by the FBI, that server was dedicated to sending notifications for [Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal] and was not part of the FBI’s corporate messaging service, ”the bureau said in a Nov. 14 statement. “No actor has been able to access or compromise data or [personally identifiable information] on the FBI network.

The success of crooks posing as government officials angered Congress. In a House Oversight Committee hearing on hackers last week, Rep. Jody Hice, Republican of Georgia, asked an FBI official about how local and state government officials should lean on FBI communications in the future so hackers can compromise the messages it sends.

“I just want to make sure that we protect the national and local authorities. How do they know what the FBI is [accurate] if what we saw last week, last weekend, happens again? asked Mr. Hice.

Bryan Vorndran, deputy director of the FBI’s cyber division, responded that the office knew precisely how the “isolated incident” had happened and believed it could prevent the same from happening again.

“This software application and associated hardware were immediately taken offline, so we consider the incident to be contained and we do not believe it will impact future communications from this mail server,” Mr. Vorndran.

Mr. Hice replied that he did not think Mr. Vorndran had answered his question.

The problem of false communications that can deceive Americans isn’t limited to victims who are investors or state and local officials interacting with the FBI, but it could affect many more people, including those traveling on upcoming vacations. Cybersecurity firm Abnormal said last week it observed a ‘: phishing’ email in which the scammer targeted victims in hopes of renewing their memberships in the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program for expedited security screening .

“Although the email was not sent from a .gov domain, the average consumer might not immediately dismiss it as a scam, especially because it contained the term ‘immigrationvisaforms’ in the domain, ”wrote Rachelle Chouinard, anomalous threats intelligence analyst, of the Blog. “The email asked the user to renew their membership on a near-legitimate looking website.”

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