NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Tennessee has joined a large COVID-19 scam task force, with the responsibility of protecting consumers.
From health to finances, we all know the pandemic has uprooted our lives in different ways.
Elizabeth Bowling with the Securities Division at the State Department of Commerce and Insurance says scammers know this, and know you’re vulnerable.
“It’s important to shut these down,” Bowling said.
Bowling says they’re now part of an international task force with 111 investigators, representing 44 jurisdictions across the U.S., Canada and Mexico, making it the largest coordinated enforcement initiative by state and security regulators.
“The schemes that we’re looking for, specifically deal with securities investing. So a lot of the scams and schemes that we’re particularly working to stop are with those investment type scams,” Bowling said.
Bowling says so far, this massive task force found more than 200 schemes related to the pandemic.
“What we’re seeing is schemes that the task force has identified that they’re trying to take advantage of fear and anxiety, and especially at the beginning you might see things that the promoters are referring to as passive income or cash flow. While there are so many Tennesseans out of work, having someone tell them, I can guarantee you a monthly income can seem pretty attractive,” Bowling said.
The department says so far they have not noticed many COVID-19 related scams in Tennessee, and they want to keep it that way.
“What the task force is trying to do is to identify early, so they can be shut down and stopped before it’s spread to other states or before it affects too many investors,” Bowling said.
Consumers can protect themselves from investment fraud by remembering the following tips. For example:
Make sure the person offering the investment, and the investment itself, is properly licensed or registered. You can check easily by contacting the Tennessee Securities Division’s Registration Section at 615-741-3187.
Don’t fall for claims of guaranteed returns. All investing involves risk, and no one can guarantee a return.
Don’t fall for unreasonably high rates of return.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
To report a suspected investment scheme or for more information on how to protect yourself from investment fraud, contact TDCI’s Securities Division at 615-741-5900.