SEC Investor Alert: Fraudsters May Target Federal Government Employee Retirement Plan Participants

July 31, 2017

sec-filingsThe SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA) and Broker-Dealer Task Force are warning the more than 5 million Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) participants, and investors in other federal government employee retirement plans, that investment scam artists may pretend to be affiliated with a government agency. 

Federal government agencies, including the SEC, do not endorse or sponsor any particular securities, issuers, products, services, professional credentials, firms, or individuals. 

If someone offers you an investment opportunity and claims any affiliation with the federal government, follow these tips:

  • Do not trust any contact information or a website provided by someone contacting you with an investment idea when that person claims to be affiliated with the government, the TSP, or government retirement plans.
  • According to the agency that administers the TSP, the TSP will never contact you by email, telephone, or mail asking you to provide sensitive personal information such as your account number, Social Security number, password, or PIN.
  • You can confirm that a seller is not affiliated with a government agency by contacting the agency directly or calling the SEC’s toll-free investor assistance line at (800) 732-0330.
  • Always be cautious about providing personal information to anyone you do not personally know.

The SEC recently brought an enforcement action against Federal Employee Benefit Counselors (FEBC), a self-described “national consulting group dedicated to educating federal employees,” whose “mission” was purportedly “to help” federal employees “optimize” their benefits.  The SEC’s complaint alleges that FEBC and certain of its employees fraudulently induced federal employees to roll over funds from their TSP accounts into privately issued variable annuities.  The SEC alleges that the defendants created the false impression that they were in some way affiliated with, or approved by, the federal government and deceived investors about the fees associated with, and the relative attractiveness of, the privately issued annuities.  The SEC alleges the defendants obtained personal information from the employees and then sent them reports that misleadingly described the recommended investment option.  The defendants allegedly failed to disclose that this “option” involved investing with a third party that had no government affiliation.

In general, fraudsters may try to deceive investors by using the word “federal” or “government” in the name of their company, copying or imitating government emblems or seals, creating fake correspondence that looks like it is from a government agency, or sending email messages that link to an actual government website.  

The TSP is a retirement savings plan administered by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, an independent government agency.  The TSP will not contact federal employees about investment opportunities and does not authorize third parties to provide counseling or investment-related services to anyone.

Additional Information

Managing Your Account: Protect Your TSP Account

Investor Alert: Beware of Government Impersonators Targeting Fraud Victims

Investor Alert: Investment Scams Involving Fake Forms 4

Updated Investor Alert: SEC Warns of Government Impersonators

Updated Investor Alert: Beware of Companies Using the SEC Seal

Investor Alert: SEC Warns of Bogus Securities Regulators Soliciting Investors

Report possible securities fraud to the SEC.  Ask a question or report a problem concerning your investments, your investment account or a financial professional.

Check out the background, including registration or license status, of anyone recommending or selling an investment through the SEC’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) database, available on Investor.gov.

4 thoughts on “SEC Investor Alert: Fraudsters May Target Federal Government Employee Retirement Plan Participants

  1. “Circus never ends”,has good points. It appears the scammer telephone-calls,we get sometimes,as frequently as;three or four-times a day,are based on ridiculously misleading demographics. Forinstance,if we have certain last-names,we are all assumed to be older,poorer,and especially more ignorant. And, if we have a lot of numbers,in addresses;we are assumed to live in private homes-even if we actually live in multi-storied,apartment-buildings. These scammets are too RETARDED,to simply check a Google on-the-ground Map. Yet,we should also refuse to giveout,unnecessary information. Fot example,there is NO NEED to notify your banks and/or credit card companies,if you are traveling within the United States. Such notifications,are only necessary,if you are visiting another nation;or if you intend to charge considerably more or withdraw considerably more cash-than usual. Also,you should resist your banks request, to create,new accounts;with new account-numbers. Finally,should you experience problems with ATM or Credit Cards,when on vacation;you need to phone these businesses,at their toll-free numbers. Resist,their friendly attempts,to call or text you,when you are away. Assume,that ALL information logged in,is subjected to theft. Give,as little information,as possible. And sternly,scald anyone,who tries to collect more information;than is absolutely necessary. Especially so,if they are foolish enough,to admit that”we have no control,over Hackers!!

  2. Actually,there could be confusing because of the”Office of Personnel Management”(OPM),does periodically send E-mails to USPS annuitants. (Retirees) OPM,handles of FERS and CSR,U.S.Postal-Service,distribution of their pensions.

  3. Good advice. Never believe any pitch on the phone, and for that matter, TV or radio. It’s simply not worth the risk, and the older we get, the more crooked telemarketers and other scam pieces of shit attack, assuming we’re senile, stupid and clueless. I hang up on all telemarketers, period. If I want somebody’s services, I’ll call them or visit their businesses. For my money, if a business has to solicit over the phone or knock on your door they probably are crooks or desperate for business.
    After any good sized storm especially where hail is involved, roofing companies are notorious for canvassing neighborhoods trying to get people to re-roof whether they need it or not. It happens where I live all the time. Talk to your homeowner insurance agent about your roof conditions – if that agent is a good one and honest, and ours is one of the best, you will get honest reputable estimates because the insurance companies insist on working with decent businesses for the most part.
    And how about this ad on TV offering $99 PER COUPLE for a Caribbean cruise? You gotta be shitting me. You’ll be drug to every time share hut on the flea speck islands, or in Florida before you ever shove off. When something sounds too good to be true or even realistic, you bet it is. They probably stick you on a hammock in the boiler room. Your “entertainment” is probably Bubba Waxear and Hurley Dogbreath doing bad hambones and Jew’s Harp while you try to eat.

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