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Scam watch: Social Security, malware, investments

November 13, 2011 |  4:03 am

SECphoto
Here is a roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for.

Social Security -- Thieves have been impersonating Social Security Administration employees in an attempt to steal seniors' personal information, AARP said in a recent bulletin. The con artists call seniors, claim to be updating their records and ask for seniors’ Social Security numbers, birth dates and bank account numbers, AARP said. Consumers should never disclose such information over the telephone to strangers, AARP said. If concerned, consumers can call or visit a Social Security office to verify that the contact was legitimate.

Malware -- The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan has charged seven international suspects -- six from Estonia and one from Russia -- with operating an Internet fraud scheme that infected more than 4 million computers worldwide with malicious software, or malware. At least 500,000 computers in the U.S. were infected during the scheme, which ran from 2007 until October, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release. The malware enabled the suspects to hijack Internet searches and re-route computers to certain websites and advertisements that paid the suspects for Web traffic. The scheme generated $14 million in illegitimate income for the suspects, the news release said. Victims’ computers were infected with the malware when they visited certain websites or downloaded certain software to view videos online, according to an indictment.

Investment fraud -- The Securities and Exchange Commission has accused a San Diego investment advisor of failing to disclose that his firm received a 10% commission whenever clients invested in a nonpublic stock offering he promoted. The SEC said it has initiated administrative proceedings to determine whether Western Capital Pacific Management and its president, Kevin James O’Rourke, inappropriately profited when clients purchased shares of Ameranth Inc. in 2005 and 2006. The company paid Western Pacific a 10% “success fee” each time it directed a client to purchase shares of its nonpublic stock, the SEC said. In addition, the SEC accused O’Rourke and the firm of misrepresenting the liquidity of a hedge fund they operated.

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-- Stuart Pfeifer

Photo: The Securities and Exchange Commission. Credit: Bloomberg

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