New Brunswick Securities Commission

Investor alert: online dating investment fraud (10/06/09)

NB 935

June 9, 2010

SAINT JOHN (CNB) - New Brunswickers are being warned about an Internet dating investment scheme originating in Ghana. A New Brunswick resident has fallen victim to this type of scheme, which involved worthless gold certificates. The New Brunswick Securities Commission (NBSC) issued the warning today.

NBSC staff became aware of the situation because of the alert actions of a bank employee. The employee suspected a fraud when the resident tried to make a large withdrawal. The employee recommended that the resident contact the NBSC to investigate.

"This person became a victim of a prevalent Internet dating investment scheme," said Rick Hancox, executive director, NBSC. "Unfortunately, the victim was scammed out of thousands of dollars. The bank employee's quick thinking prevented the victim from losing any more money."

Internet scams evolve continuously, and anyone who has money is at risk. This particular scheme is very personal in nature. It begins with contact by way of a dating website; a relationship develops; and requests for money ensue, increasing in value over time.

This scheme involved securities. Certificates for gold were issued purporting that it was the only way to export gold from Ghana. This West African country is known for its gold reserves. Examples of the certificates are available on the NBSC website.

"A successful con artist does everything to gain your trust and becomes skilled at manipulating your emotions," said Hancox. "It is important to keep in mind that persons you meet online might not be who they say they are. You might be dealing with persons using false identities to get your money."

The NBSC recommends New Brunswickers keep these tips in mind when considering online transactions:

With the Internet, scammers may operate anonymously from anywhere in the world, making them hard to catch. Once you have given your money to an online scam artist, it is likely gone for good.

The NBSC relies on New Brunswickers reporting suspicious investment or securities-related activity. New Brunswickers may report or file a complaint confidentially by contacting the NBSC at 1-866-933-2222; by e-mail; or by going online.

As an independent provincial Crown corporation, the NBSC oversees the capital markets in New Brunswick and regulates those that sell or manage securities. The NBSC is funded by regulatory fees paid by those operating in the investment industry, including public companies, mutual funds and more than 7,000 registered individuals and firms.

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10/06/09

MEDIA CONTACT: Michelle Robichaud, communications, New Brunswick Securities Commission, 506-643-7045.

10/06/09