ASC launches fake interactive website to educate Albertans about copycat investment companies

CALGARY, March 30, 2022 /CNW/ – In honor of Fraud Prevention Month, the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) has launched a multimedia campaign to raise awareness of the spoofed and cloned websites of legitimate registered investment firms. The campaign includes a fake website that highlights several tell-tale signs of fraud in an easy-to-navigate educational way.

The act of “cloning” or “spoofing” involves fraudsters creating a website that mimics or closely resembles the website and information of a legitimate registered investment firm, most often without their knowledge. .

“We’ve seen an increase in scams using professional-looking websites that pose as legitimate businesses,” said Hilary McMeekin, director, communications and investor education at ASC. “We’ve created a new tool to help investors, and now all Albertans can use our fake website to safely explore common red flags. The site also provides key steps they can follow to check the legitimacy and registration of any investment firm found online or marketed via pop-up ads.”

Spoofed or cloned websites are frequently used by scammers hoping to take advantage of those who want to invest, “get in early”, look for low or competitive rates, or catch the latest trend or big “opportunity” for earn money. Potential investors may stumble upon spoofed or cloned sites through internet searches and pop-up advertisements offering attractive, risk-free returns. They can also be targeted through email, SMS, apps and social networks where they are encouraged to visit the fraudulent website. Once on the site, they are strongly encouraged to invest and deposit additional funds if it “appears” that they have made money. Although some websites allow investors to withdraw anticipated returns, this is only to establish their credibility, and more often than not, all other requests to withdraw money are denied.

In addition to exploring red flags of fraud, the fake CSA website directs visitors to the resources and tools available at CheckFirst.ca.

Even seasoned investors can fall prey to fraudulent investment opportunities and cloned websites. It is important to become familiar with the red flags of fraud and report any suspicious investments to the ASC Public Information Office at 1-877-355-4488 or [email protected]. In particular, investors must:

1) Be suspicious any unsolicited investment offer made online, on social media or over the phone, particularly if it requires payment in bitcoins or other digital assets. Be cautious even though you may have made contact with the company.

2) Be aware red flags of cloned/spoofed websites and duplicate websites for businesses found through contextual advertisements and internet searches.

3) Always check registration of any company you wish to work with by visiting www.checkfirst.ca/check-registration/. Securities law requires that all professionals and businesses in the investment industry be registered in the province where you reside.

4) only contact the number listed on the business registration found in the albertabased on the list of registered on the CSA website if based in alberta or the National Registration Search provided by the Canadian Securities Administrators. This will ensure you contact the legitimate company.

CheckFirst.ca also includes a new guide for those interested in investing in crypto assets, as well as virtual presentations on fraud awareness and crypto-asset 101.

The ASC is the regulator responsible for administering the province’s securities laws. It is responsible for fostering a fair and efficient capital market in alberta and with investor protection. As a member of the Canadian Securities Administrators, the ASC strives to improve, coordinate and harmonize the regulation of from Canada capital markets.

SOURCE Alberta Securities Commission

For further information: For media inquiries: Theresa Schroder, Alberta Securities Commission, 587-830-4286, [email protected]; For Investor Inquiries: ASC Public Inquiries, Toll Free 1-877-355-4488