Traders in financial district with trading screen data.

ATLANTA (CBS46) -- Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger warned all Georgians Thursday about scammers using COVID-19 pandemic fear as fraudulent or deceptive investment opportunities.

Raffensperger recommended Georgians remain wary of investments related to Coronavirus and do their homework before making any decisions.

“Even as Americans lose their jobs and face financial uncertainty as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, scammers seek to take advantage of their fear with false promises and misleading investment scams,” said Raffensperger. 

Raffensperger is encouraging the people of Georgia to watch out for investment scams that promise returns or attempt to use fear to lure them into make rash investment decisions.

“We will work hard with our partners in law enforcement to root out fraud but vigilance is the first defense. In turbulent times like these, the people of Georgia need to be extra cautious about where they send their money.”

The Securities and Charities Division of the Office of the Secretary of State already released several Investor Alerts about possible scams and frauds.

The Securities and Charities Division has also released guidelines outlining the common ways scam artists look to solicit investments:

  • Be Cautious Of Coronavirus Cures. Con artists will claim a company or product can cure or stop COVID-19 in an effort to make it seem like the investment is a sure thing. These claims can be part of “pump-and-dump” schemes where fraudsters boost a company’s stock price by promoting positive, but fake, information before cashing out their own holdings when the demand and price go up.
  • Too Good To Be True. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Promises of guaranteed returns usually indicate fraud at worst or a scam in the best case.
  • Do Your Homework. Staying informed is harder than ever with the deluge of information about COVID-19 and the increasing complexity of the financial world. Nevertheless, be sure to research any investments so you know what exactly the investment is, who is managing it, where the money goes, and how you can get it back if necessary.
  • Check For Official Registration. Ask those selling securities if the securities are registered with the SEC or the Georgia Division of Securities and Charities. The sale of unregistered securities may violate state and federal laws.
  • Think Before You Click. Before clicking on any links sent by email, text, or through any social media platform, be sure that you know the sender and have verified the link is not a virus or malware.
  • Fake Experts. Especially as COVID-19 continues to pose a threat, watch out for emails purporting to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or any experts claiming to have inside information about the virus. These are likely scams.
  • What’s The Rush. Time pressure and pressure to act quickly are signs that something is amiss. If a security or investment is real, it will be there after you have done some research.
  • More resources are available on the Securities and Exchange Commission website, the CDC website, and on website for Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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