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We just wanted to alert everyone to a new scam going around in which the scammers pretend to be representing or to have some affiliation with FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The letters offer fake investment opportunities and use the FINRA Logo, a lot of legal sounding language, and even a fake signature from the FINRA President and CEO to try to make them look more official. The letters falsely claim that FINRA is backing or "guaranteeing" these investments. However, it's just a classic advance-fee scam.

We here at Smith Brandon International are actually quite familiar with FINRA. They provide a lot of useful information about brokers and other financial professionals that we use frequently in our background investigations of potential business partners, employees and executives.

FINRA is the US Financial Industries self-regulatory organization. Its job is to make rules for the financial industry and make sure that brokers and other financial professionals follow those rules. It is not involved in backing loans or investments. FINRA says:
"We are issuing this Alert to warn investors that scammers are posing as regulators to separate you from your money. We want you to know that neither FINRA, nor any of its executives, will ever provide a "guarantee" on an investment or offer to facilitate your participation in any sort of money-making scheme. Never."
They have also provided an image of one of the letters with notations. These letters are fake and should be ignored, and anyone sending such letters should not be trusted.

They also warn about a similar scam going around using email instead of paper letters. In the case of the emails they are trying to get your personal information.

Unfortunately scams are everywhere, and it can be easy to fall for something that looks so official. FINRA is a trusted and very official sounding organization so it's not surprising that scammers would want to try to associate their schemes with them. Thankfully this one was well known enough that FINRA and other sources could put out warnings about them. While many scams use this "shotgun" approach of trying to just send out letters and emails to lots of potential victims some scammers are more sophisticated, and their fake documents and claims might not be as well known or as easily recognized.

Smith Brandon International has uncovered many potential scams and risky investments for our clients over the years. Before you start doing business with a new partner call Smith Brandon International so we can look into their background and make sure they are who they say they are, and that they can deliver what they say they can deliver.

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