By Patricia Uceda, Fall 2014 Graduate Research Assistant
In addition to warnings given by the FTC about Ebola-related charity scams, NASAA has also issued an alert warning investors about opportunistic investment schemes related to Ebola. NASAA states that, based on its many years of experience, it is during periods of uncertainty such as this one that fraudsters usually make their move and target unwary investors.
Investors should be wary of any Internet-based investment opportunities that claim to be related to Ebola. NASAA determined that since only April of this year, nearly 1,200 internet domains containing the term “Ebola” have been registered, and 184 of those have already been identified by NASAA’s Enforcement Technology project group as suspicious.
According to the Chair of NASAA’s Enforcement Technology project group, review of the domain names alone has indicates fraudsters’ strong intent to use the deadly disease as a means for financial gain.
At this point, investigators have not had a chance to investigate any of the suspect sites in depth. In addition, some of them are merely “parked” and have no content yet. These “parked” sites are most likely being prepared to launch, or the owners may be trying to sell the domain names to someone else. However, the rapid rate at which these Ebola investment sites have been popping up is certainly alarming.
Investors should be wary about investing in any “funds” or “stocks” purporting to be related to an Ebola cure. As the FTC reminded consumers, there is no FDA-approved vaccine or treatment at this point. Additionally, organizations offering unrealistic promises of quick wealth are generally red flags for fraud. Certainly before even considering investing, investors should contact their state securities regulator to ensure if the investment is licensed and registered; if not, they may be operating illegally.