Securities Dealers Warn of Investment Phishing Scam

Securities regulators are warning people to be wary of a new investment scam that uses phony government agency Web sites.

The National Association of Securities Dealers, the brokerage industry's self-policing organization, issued an investor alert Tuesday regarding Web sites using in the address, resembling the .gov.xx address of official government sites outside the United States.

The scam, through e-mail and faxes, mainly targets people outside America with investment pitches meant to get them to send money in advance of services rendered, the NASD said.

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The unsolicited pitch for stocks or other investments typically ends by sending the consumer to a fake government regulator's Web site.

In addition, the phony Web sites may use cookies — data files that allow a site to track visitors electronically — to gather personal information, according to the alert.

In the United States, all federal agencies' Web sites have addresses ending with .gov.

The NASD said it is aware of at least three phony Web sites using the scheme:

— Central Registry Regulators, which claims that the agency "administers and enforces the federal securities laws in order to protect investors and to maintain fair, honest and efficient markets." (The mission statement is similar to that of the actual U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.)

— National Mergers and Acquisitions Board, which claims "to oversee, administer and enforce the federal securities laws relating to corporate mergers and acquisitions."

— Board of Commissioners of Mergers and Acquisitions, which claims the same.