Posts Tagged ‘Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’

Protect yourself with help from FINRA*

You Can Protect Yourself from Fake Check Scams

  • Mystery Shopping Scam

  • Modeling Scam

  • Unexpected Check Scam

Here’s How (from FINRA’s investor newsletter)

  • Know the hallmarks of fraud. Fake check scams typically have a number of red flags, such as:
    • Typos: Watch out for online postings or emails that are riddled with typos and poor grammar.
    • Mismatched names: Compare the name of the person or company posting the opportunity with the name on the check you receive—and beware if they don’t match.
    • Pressure to act quickly: Be aware that it can take 10 days or even more for your bank to determine that a check is counterfeit. Don’t wire or transfer funds until you have verified with your bank that the check has cleared—even if the bank allows you to withdraw the money sooner.

If you receive a suspicious check, be sure to contact one or more of the following organizations right away: your local police, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center), or the U.S. Postal Inspections Service (if the check arrived by U.S. mail).


Elder Finance Seminars scheduled around Maine


By Russ Van Arsdale, executive director, Northeast Contact
Posted Sept. 02, 2012, at 4:13 p.m.

 Another round of free seminars on protecting senior citizens from fraud is coming up around Maine next week.

The sessions are designed to give seniors and others who care about them solid information on spotting fraud and exploitation and getting help when they occur. Financial exploitation of seniors is on the rise in Maine and around the country; it’s considered one of the growing crimes of this century.

The sessions will be held in Hallowell 9-11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 10; in Scarborough 2:30-4:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10; in Lewiston 2-4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11; in Bangor 2-4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11; and in Presque Isle 9-11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12. Locations and details are available by calling Maine’s Office of Securities at 877-624-8551 or the Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging at 877-353-3771.

The Office and Association have teamed up with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, Investor Education Foundation (, Legal Services for the Elderly and other experts to offer the sessions.

“Investment fraud criminals are experts at parting people from their money, and Mainers are being targeted,” said Gerri Walsh, president of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. “We are committed to providing Mainers and all Americans with the information necessary to spot and avoid investment fraud and scams.”

The sessions are titled “Outsmarting Financial Fraud and Elder Abuse.” Judith Shaw, Maine’s Securities Administrator, said the gatherings will give resources to seniors and training to others who interact with seniors on a regular basis.

“Our partners in this effort do remarkable work to inform and protect seniors, and we encourage people to take advantage of the resources and insights to be offered,” Shaw said.

The two-hour general sessions are open to anyone. Each will be followed by a one-hour, train-the-trainer session; these are designed for service providers, professionals and others who deliver training to seniors on these issues.

A similar session last October in Bangor was well attended. The upcoming sessions could serve as a refresher for anyone who was there, as well as offering an array of information and resources for first-time participants.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s membership-funded, nonprofit consumer organization. Individual and business memberships are available at modest rates. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer 04412, visit or email

Financial wellness conference spotlights fraud, investment schemes

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff
Posted Oct. 15, 2011, at 12:26 p.m.

Carolyn and Ray Thompson of Brewer were among the featured speakers Maine Consumer University’s financial wellness seminar at the Spectacular Event Center in Bangor Saturday, October 15, 2011  photo John Clarke Russ| BDN

BANGOR, Maine — A Brewer couple who invested thousands in a windmill scheme told their story to others at a financial wellness conference on Saturday in hopes people would learn from their mistakes.

“At first we didn’t realize we were getting scammed,” Carolyn Thompson said, sitting beside her husband, Ray, at the beginning of the half-day “Consumer University: Exercising Financial Wellness” conference held at the Spectacular Events Center.

The couple was approached by friends who told them about a unique sail-type windmill that could be installed on houses or in backyards that could provide a home’s energy, and any extra power generated could be sold to operators of the local electricity grid, the couple said, describing the scam they fell into.

“What got us excited about these windmills is they were different,” Ray Thompson said. “They were designed like a sail on a boat.”

The couple invested $10,000 three times and also got their friends to invest.

“That’s what we feel bad about,” Carolyn Thompson said. “We were very, very excited about it.”

While the Brewer couple and others will never see their money again, the man who scammed them was convicted in June of mail fraud and 10 counts of wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

Maine’s Office of Securities partnered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, AARP of Maine, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, other consumer protection and law enforcement agencies to present the free conference designed to provide resources on protecting assets and guarding against financial exploitation.

“We are all consumer protection agencies,” Christine Kieffer, FINRA senior director, said.

The consumer university conference focused on reverse mortgages, investment products, how to outsmart investment fraud and avoiding mail and identity theft.

“People are desperate because of the economy,” Judy Shaw, Maine Office of Securities administrator, said. “They’ve lost their investment money … they don’t trust the stock market anymore so it’s ripe for scams.”

Education is key to helping potential investors protect their funds, because once it’s gone, it usually is recovered, she said.

The Thompsons have decided to take what they learned by being scammed and educate others in hopes they can avoid what the Brewer couple went through. There are two things people should do when dealing with possible investments, they said.

“Educate yourself and do a strong background check,” Ray Thompson said.

“If I had Googled this man I would have got a lot of information,” Carolyn Thompson said.

Free Conference on Wise and Safe Investing Brings State and Federal Experts to York County

Maine Office of Securities Encourages Investors and Potential Investors to Register for Free Event – Including Practical Advice & Lunch

GARDINER, MAINE – Maine’s Office of Securities will host a free “Wise and Safe Investing Conference” on Friday, September 16th, from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at Village by the Sea Conference Center in Wells. Securities Administrator Judy Shaw is encouraging investors, particularly seniors and those approaching their retirement years, to register today by calling 1-877-926-8300.

This free investor protection event is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation’s ongoing effort to provide information, resources and assistance to senior consumers and their advocates. The conference is part of a national investor protection initiative, “The Campaign for Wise and Safe Investing,” and funded by a grant from the non-profit Investor Protection Trust. The AARP Foundation is co-sponsoring the event and the Maine chapter of AARP is coordinating registration.

The Wise and Safe Investing Conference will feature federal and state experts from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the AARP Foundation, and the Maine Office of Securities.

Panelists will provide practical advice on how to safeguard investments, avoid financial scams and identify unethical practices. In addition to the planned program, ample time will be available to address questions from attendees on other issues related to the securities industry, including how the current volatility in the national securities markets may affect small investors.

Registration for the conference is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required to confirm a seat. To register, call AARP/Maine toll-free at 1-877-926-8300. More information about the Wise and Safe Investing Conference is also available by contacting the Maine Office of Securities at 1-877-624-8551 or by visiting

The Office of Securities is part of the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.  It regulates the securities industry in Maine through a variety of activities, including licensing broker dealers and investment advisers; reviewing registration statements and exemption filings; investigating and prosecuting violations of the securities laws; conducting on-site compliance examinations of broker-dealers and investment advisers; and conducting investor education outreach programs.

Investigators looking into unlicensed investment sales — Bangor Daily News


By Russ Van Arsdale,
Executive Director, Northeast Contact

Posted June 12, 2011, at 8:15 p.m.

We’ve urged caution in the past when making investments. Now, as the economy remains less than vibrant, some sellers are cutting corners and hoping that their promises of large, quick returns will overpower our common sense.

The old adage still applies: if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Maine’s Office of Securities is actively pursuing cases in which unlicensed sellers operate in the state. Office investigators are also looking for licensed sellers who may be selling investment products that are not registered in the state.

In a news release last week, Securities Administrator Judy Shaw said her office has reached a consent agreement targeting the unlicensed sale of an unregistered investment product. A consent agreement is a legal stipulation that, while the signer admits no legal wrongdoing, he will not do it again.

In this case, Jesse Bean of Calais sold a one-year promissory note to a 78-year-old Maine resident. The promissory note was not registered in Maine. Bean convinced the buyer to finance the deal by surrendering a Bankers Life and Casualty Equity Indexed Annuity (EIA) Bean had sold the resident a year earlier for more than $51,000.

The resident agreed, even though it cost a 10 percent surrender fee. Bean assured the resident that not only would he recover the surrender charge within a year, but also he would make a lot more money if his funds were invested in a Genesis note rather than the Bankers Life EIA.

A couple of things were wrong with those promises. The value of the property that Genesis bought using the resident’s money was less than what the resident invested; also, the loan was not fully collateralized. Although he had been told his money would pay only 70 percent of the closing costs, those funds covered all the closing costs; so, Genesis did not contribute 30 percent of the purchase price as promised.

In signing the consent order, Bean agrees not to associate with any investment adviser, issuer or broker-dealer for two years. Instead of a civil penalty, he’s begun making restitution of $5,000 to the heirs of the Maine resident.

Shaw notes that most investment firms and their employees have good track records and act in their investors’ best interests. She says when that is not the case, her office will go after violators aggressively. Last year, Shaw’s office ordered restitution totaling over $6.4 million to investors and got another $164,000 restitution without taking formal action.

Shaw urges all investors to check the license status of anyone who offers investment products for sale and to make sure the investment product is properly registered in Maine. You can check online at or by calling 877-624-8551(TTY: 888-577-6690).

Last month, the Office of Securities announced the launch of a searchable database of stock brokers and investments advisers. Prospective buyers can check to see if a broker or adviser has any history of disciplinary action. The database is maintained by FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Find it online at

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s membership-funded, nonprofit consumer organization. Individual and business memberships are available at modest rates. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for more information, write: Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer 04412, go to, or email

Maine’s Office of Securities Announces Improvements to

Individual Investors and Businesses Benefit from Enhancements to National Securities Industry Database

AUGUSTA, MAINE  —  Securities Administrator Judith Shaw announced this week that investors and businesses have an additional tool at their disposal to research the background and disciplinary history of licensed stock brokers and investment advisers.  The recently launched FINRA Disciplinary Actions Online database is a web-based searchable system that makes FINRA disciplinary actions accessible directly online.

 Administrator Shaw explained that the database benefits the public by increasing the transparency of and access to FINRA’s files on stock brokers and investment advisers who have been involved in disciplinary actions.  The public is now able to quickly search, download, print or read FINRA actions free of charge, seven days a week.  

 Users may search the system in a variety of ways, including by individual broker name and Central Registration Depository (CRD) number, or by firm name and CRD number, as well as by case number or action date (by date range).  Previously, the public had to contact FINRA to obtain copies of disciplinary actions.  The new database makes disciplinary action documents–including Letters of Acceptance, Waivers and Consent, and settlements–immediately available.

 “Investors are always encouraged to contact Maine’s Office of Securities to check the registration of investment opportunities, as well as the licensing and background of investment advisors,” Shaw commented.  “Enhancements to FINRA’s BrokerCheck® online system, however, make it easier than ever for investors to obtain additional information on their own.”  

Shaw said personal service is available from professional staff at the Office of Securities by calling toll-free 1-877-624-8551 (TTY: 888-577-6690).  Online disciplinary history through FINRA’s BrokerCheck system is available at  In 2010, members of the public used BrokerCheck to conduct 17.2 million reviews of broker or firm records.

 The Office of Securities oversees the securities industry in Maine.  It is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through the regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine.  More information about the Office and its resources is available at 

FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest non-governmental regulator for securities firms doing business in the US. For more information, visit

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