SEC accuses 'RIA' of using LinkedIn in alleged scam

Illinois man accused of duping investors with fictitious securities offering

Jan 4, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

By Lavonne Kuykendall

The SEC has filed a cease-and-desist order against an Illinois man who called himself a registered investment adviser and a representative of a broker-dealer online and used social media in an attempt to scam gullible investors.

Anthony Fields, 54, and his companies Anthony Fields & Associates and Platinum Securities Brokers, both located in Lyons, Ill., of numerous violations of federal securities laws, including offering fictitious securities through LinkedIn. Fields also used online communication providers Netzero and Trade Key, the SEC said.

Mr. Fields, who is neither registered with the SEC as a broker/dealer nor licensed as an associate of a registered broker/dealer, called himself a representative of a “leading institutional broker-dealer” online and touted supposedly bank-guaranteed securities on LinkedIn discussions, beginning in 2010 and continuing through the present, according to the SEC's cease-and-desist order.

He received multiple e-mails responding to his offer, the order said. Mr. Fields set up an unfunded investment adviser and an unfunded broker-dealer and registered both with the SEC, filing a false ADV form in March 2010, the order said.

The SEC ordered Mr. Fields to respond to the allegations within 20 days and it ordered a public hearing to gather evidence within 60 days of the order.

At the time of this report, Mr. Fields' LinkedIn page was still active, but his website was blocked, and carried a warning that it was a reported attack page. Mr. Fields did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The SEC also issued adviser and investor alerts related to social media. The investor alerts warned investors to keep their account information private online, and to be wary of unsolicited offers to invest. It also suggested that investors carefully consider whom they “friend” online, although the LinkedIn site where Mr. Fields operated doesn't use that terminology. A national examination risk alert issued by the SEC Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations reminded investment advisers that their social media use must comply with federal securities laws.

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