ASC Offers Tips on How to Prevent Fraud when Investing Through the Internet

    CALGARY, March 13 /CNW/ - As part of Fraud Prevention Month, the Alberta
Securities Commission (ASC) is warning Albertans that the Internet is an easy
way for scam artists to cast their net for potential victims of investment
scams. While the set-up is basically the same as traditional scams, the
Internet provides scam artists with a huge pool of potential victims right at
their fingertips. It also allows them to operate anonymously from anywhere in
the world, which can make them hard to catch.

    Here are a few scams to watch for on-line:

    Affinity Fraud

    Trust is an essential part of a successful investment scam. Social
networking sites (such as Facebook, MySpace and craigslist) can quickly create
an environment of trust that can then be exploited. Scam artists collect the
personal data you have provided to these sites and tailor their investing
message/sales pitch specifically to your needs. The resulting sense of
affinity and trust you may gain from this tailored pitch allows them to more
effectively lure you into a fraudulent investment.

    The Pump-and-Dump

    In a typical pump-and-dump scheme, you receive an e-mail promoting or
"pumping" an incredible deal on a low-priced stock. However, what you may not
know is that the sender likely owns much of this stock. As more investors buy
shares, the value skyrockets. Once the share price hits a peak, the scam
artist sells or "dumps" their own shares and the value of the stock plummets,
leaving you and other investors with worthless shares.

    Phishing/Spoofed Websites

    The scam artist gets your attention by sending out e-mails that look like
they come from a legitimate company with whom you may do business. That e-mail
will contain a link to a "spoofed" website where you are asked to provide
personal information for updating purposes or to solve a "fictitious" problem.
The fraudster will then use that information to commit identity theft to steal
your money.

    What you can do
    -   Never reply to spam e-mails. Just delete the e-mail and block further
        e-mail from that sender.
    -   Never give out your personal financial information and remember to
        Check First. Legitimate businesses never ask for personal information
        through regular e-mail.
    -   Research your investments. The best way to protect your money is to
        be an informed investor and do your homework on all investment
        opportunities. If you don't understand an investment, get independent
        financial advice or see a lawyer.
    -   Contact the ASC Inquiries Line at 1-877-355-4488. We can help you
        check the registration of an individual or firm and find out if they
        have been involved in any disciplinary actions.

    For more tips on how to Check First before you invest, visit

    The ASC is the regulatory agency responsible for administering the
province's securities laws. It is entrusted to foster a fair and efficient
capital market in Alberta and to protect investors. As a member of the
Canadian Securities Administrators, the ASC works to improve, coordinate and
harmonize the regulation of Canada's capital markets.

For further information:

For further information: For Media Inquiries: Lorinda Brinton, Advisor,
Investor Education, (403) 297-2665; For Investor Inquiries: ASC Public
Inquiries, Toll Free, 1-877-355-4488

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