January, 2012:

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently charged an Illinois-based investment adviser with offering to sell fictitious securities on LinkedIn.  The SEC’s Division of Enforcement alleges that Anthony Fields of Lyons, Ill. offered more than $500 billion in fictitious securities through various social media websites. For example, he used LinkedIn discussions to promote fictitious “bank guarantees” and “medium-term notes.” The postings resulted in interest from multiple purported potential buyers.

“Fraudsters are quick to adapt to new technologies to exploit them for unlawful purposes,” said Robert B. Kaplan, Co-Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit. “Social media is no exception, and today’s enforcement action reflects our determination to pursue fraudulent activity on new and evolving platforms.”

According to the SEC’s order instituting administrative proceedings against Fields, he made multiple fraudulent offers through his two sole proprietorships – Anthony Fields & Associates (AFA) and Platinum Securities Brokers. Fields provided false and misleading information concerning AFA’s assets under management, clients, and operational history to the public through its website and in SEC filings. Fields also failed to maintain required books and records, did not implement adequate compliance policies and procedures, and held himself out to be a broker-dealer while he was not registered with the SEC.

“As investment advisers increasingly utilize social media to communicate with clients and potential clients, firms need to be mindful of the applicable standards governing those communications,” said Carlo di Florio, Director of the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE).