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An Illinois man linked to an elaborate LinkedIn fraud is facing an enforcement action by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The SEC accuses investment advisor Anthony Fields of Lyons, Ill., of trying to hawk more than $500 billion in securities by using LinkedIn and other social media sites, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The securities were bogus, and Fields didn't even have proper credentials to sell them, the SEC alleges.
Though Fields was apparently acting alone, the practice of using social media like LinkedIn for fraud is on the rise.
The SEC released two investor alerts Jan. 4, warning about fraudsters using social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter to create buzz and drum up business. The SEC is recommending that financial firms set strict standards for social-media use.
In the case of Anthony Fields' LinkedIn fraud, he allegedly created two companies and a false online paper trail that purported to show millions in assets under his management and an impressive list of past clients, MediaPost reports.
Fields' LinkedIn posts served as advertisements: "If you are interested you can email for particulars," he wrote online, according to The New York Times. But financial planners are supposed to refrain from such advertisements. "Even posting a client's positive comment may cross the line," according to the Tribune.
Investors should be wary of any broker who isn't registered with the SEC or the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), one expert told the Tribune. FINRA also offers an online searchable database of registered brokers.
Though potential buyers expressed interest in Anthony Fields' LinkedIn fraud, he never actually sold anyone on the bogus deals. The Times reports Fields is representing himself in his SEC case, and could not be reached for comment.