The Missouri Securities Division ordered BrendaLeeTrades.com and any individuals running the site to cease and desist after allegedly using the name of a St. Louis-based financial adviser to lure investors into cryptocurrency transactions.
On April 23, the division received notification that an unknown individual or individuals allegedly utilized the name of a registered investment adviser employed by a St. Louis-based firm to lure investors into cryptocurrency transactions. The individual(s) utilized a fraudulent website established with basic information gleaned from publicly available information about the employee.
Multiple Instagram accounts and a Facebook page supplemented the scam to give legitimacy to the website. The website and social media pages contained stock images and vague claims about foreign currency and cryptocurrency trading. Misspellings, grammatical errors, and incorrect phone numbers for the firm raised additional suspicions regarding the legitimacy of the online pages.
The division immediately launched an investigation and confirmed the fraudulent nature of the website, Instagram sites, and Facebook page.
“Our office will pursue anyone whose unlawful actions harm the integrity of the financial marketplace or place investors at risk,” Securities Commissioner David M. Minnick said. “Be wary of websites containing vague promises and multiple grammatical or typographical errors. Check out anyone who solicits investment opportunities or gives financial advice before sending any money. If you have any doubts, contact our office first.”
The division ordered those in charge of the website to show cause why they should not be ordered to pay civil penalties, restitution, disgorgement of profits, costs, and other administrative relief. The division is now seeking a final order from the commissioner.
Ashcroft urges all investors to know the risks. If you have any questions about an investment opportunity or wish to check the background and registration status of a financial adviser, please call the toll-free investor protection hotline at 800-721-7996, or visit the Missouri Protects Investors website to file a complaint.