Don’t Become a Victim to Phishing Investment Scams: Tips for Avoiding Phishing

By Dylan Donley, Student Intern Fall 2013

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The following is a list of general guidelines to consider if you ever receive an unsolicited phone-call:

(1)  Be suspicious of any phone call or email with urgent requests for personal financial information.

  • Phishers typically include upsetting or exciting (but false) statements in their emails or phone calls to get people to react immediately.
  • For example, “Is this Mr. Smith?  I am calling from XYC Bank.  Do you have a VISA card?  I need to verify your account number because it appears that someone may be fraudulently charging purchases to your account.  Can you read me the account number and expiration date on the front?  Now, the last four digits on the back…” Continue reading

Phishing and Other Financial Fraud — It’s More of Problem than You Might Think

By Dylan Donley, Student Intern Fall 2013

As discussed in my previous blog posts, a new wave of phishing scams has emerged – phishers are impersonating employees of legitimate brokerage firms and cold-calling individuals, including actual investors, seeking personal financial information under the guise of offering high yielding Certificates of Deposit.

While this is certainly a new take on investment scams that have been reported, the occurrence of financial fraud in the United States has steadily increased over the last decade.  Organized crime frequently uses phishing as a method to commit fraud, and there is a black market for stolen credit card and Social Security numbers. Continue reading

The Anatomy of a Phishing Scam

By Dylan Donley, Student Intern Fall 2013

While scammers have become increasingly sophisticated with their phishing schemes (e.g., creating seemingly authentic emails, Web sites, and making seemingly legitimate phone calls from employees with actual banks and brokerage firms which are actually fraudulent), there are a number of factors that suggest a phone call or email communication is a phishing scam.

Email phishing schemes may include:

  1. A falsified email address
  2. An impersonal email greeting
  3. A sense of urgency
  4. An account status threat
  5. Links embedded in the email or documents attached to the email
  6. Requests for personal information

Similarly, phone call phishing schemes may include:

  1. The Caller ID name and phone number not belonging to the legitimate business or firm
  2. A sense of urgency
  3. An account status threat
  4. Requests for personal information Continue reading

Phishing: It’s Not Just an Internet Problem Anymore

By Dylan Donley, Student Intern Fall 2013

While it may surprise you that phishing has nothing to do with either sitting on a boat in the lake, with rods, tackle boxes, and bait, or rocking out to a very popular jam band, phishing is generally defined as online scams that frequently use unsolicited messages purporting to originate from legitimate organizations, particularly banking and finance services such as brokerage firms, to deceive victims infishing hook clip art microsoftto disclosing their financial and/or personal identity information.

Phishers, who have traditionally used spam emails to obtain sensitive information from unsuspecting individuals, have recently taken to a much older method of communication for their scams, one which many people would believe is not as susceptible to scams:  the telephone.  FINRA has recently received reports that phishers are posing as employees of at least one well-known brokerage firm to obtain personal information using phone calls in order to defraud individuals and lure them into providing personal and financial information. Continue reading

Meet Student Intern Dylan Donley

dylandonley2Dylan Donley is a student intern in the Investor Advocacy clinic’s fall 2013 opening semester.

Dylan also works with the clinic as a graduate research assistant during the Spring 2014 semester.

“The Investor Advocacy clinic is important,” Donley says,  “because it serves two demonstrated needs in Georgia: a need for education, and a need for legal assistance to those wronged by their brokers.”

A graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, Dylan plans to work in corporate law when she graduates from Georgia State University’s College of Law in 2014.

Information for Potential Clients: Are You Eligible for the Clinic’s Services?

The Georgia State University College of Law’s Investor Advocacy Clinic provides legal services to small investors with claims against their broker-dealers who are not able to find legal representation due to the size of their claims. Law students, under the supervision of a faculty member who is a Georgia-licensed attorney, will represent investors in handling disputes with their broker-dealers that are subject to arbitration before FINRA.  Are you eligible for our services? Continue reading

Collaboration Key for New Clinic

Secretary of State Brian Kemp visited the College of Law’s new Investor Advocacy Clinic offices along with Tom Zagorsky and representatives from the Division of Securities to discuss opportunities for collaboration with Clinic Director Doug Yarn, Assistant Clinical Professor Nicole Iannarone and clinic students on Sept. 5.

As Georgia’s commissioner of securities, Kemp is “responsible for the enforcement of the Georgia Uniform Securities Act and the regulation of the securities business in the state of Georgia.” His office receives consumer complaints and helps educate investors.

“I was impressed with the Investor Advocacy Clinic and look forward to working with the clinic’s staff and students to advance our common goals of investor protection and investor education,” said Zagorsky, securities division director.

The relationship between Kemp’s office and the clinic is significant because “while they can file enforcement actions to prevent brokers from taking advantage of consumers, they generally can’t help individuals who have already been harmed recover their losses,” Iannarone said. Continue reading