Regulation and Licensing Department cautions against investor schemes

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SANTA FE — New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Superintendent J. Dee Dennis, Jr. today warned investors against potential scams on popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
“As more and more people turn to online social networking sites to interact with others, so have con artists who lurk in the virtual shadows with shady investment deals,” said Dennis. “Just because you befriend someone online does not mean that person is your ‘real friend’ when it comes to investing. This individual may be deliberately mimicking your likes and interests to lure you into a scam.”
The rise in popularity of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, eHarmony and other online social networks has made it easier for con artists to quickly establish trust and credibility, said Daniel Tanaka, Director for the Department’s Securities Division. “Crooks peddling scams increasingly are logging on to these social network sites to find investors and their money,” Tanaka added.
Con artists have launched “affinity fraud” schemes for years by targeting victims through traditional offline social networks, such as community service groups, professional associations or faith-based organizations. Scammers infiltrate groups of individuals connected through common interests, hobbies, lifestyles, professions or faith to establish strong bonds through face-to-face contact and sharing of personal interests before launching their schemes.
Online social networking sites enable scammers to gain access to potential victims through their online profiles, which may contain sensitive personal information such as their dates or places of birth, phone numbers, home addresses, religious and political views, employment histories, and even personal photographs.
“A con artist can take advantage of how easily people share background and personal information online by using this information to make a highly targeted pitch to “friends” within that social group,” Tanaka said.  “Take time to check out the investment yourself, and remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
If you or someone you know is a victim of financial fraud, contact the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department, Securities Division  at 1-800-704-5533 or visit RedFlagsNM.com.