The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which maintains a special reserve fund mandated by Congress to protect the customers of insolvent brokerage firms, said today that it is alerting international regulators about a "look-alike" Web site for a fictitious organization that is mimicking the SIPC Web site in an apparent attempt to target Madoff victims.
The so-called International Securities Investor Protection Corporation (I-SIPC.com) copies several aspects of the SIPC Web site artwork and structural design. It is soliciting Madoff victims to submit claims, which SIPC is warning could result in phishing or other identify theft problems. The phony group claims to be based in Geneva and also maintains that it has ties to the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund, among others.
In one section of the Web site, the group includes a supposed testimonial from a Madoff victim who is reported as having received funds from the organization. In a link from the homepage of the site that leads to a photo of a huge stack of U.S. currency, the group falsely claims to have collaborated with Interpol to recover $1.3 billion in Madoff money from a hideout in Malaysia.
SIPC President Stephen Harbeck said: "We know from information provided to us by individuals that this bogus group is already attempting to obtain funds and confidential financial information from investors in the U.S. SIPC wants to be as clear as possible that Madoff victims and other investors should not share any personal financial information via this Web site or rely upon it as an information source. We intend to use every available means to shut down this illicit operation.
Harbeck said that SIPC recently became an ancillary member of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and will publish a related Investor Alert through that organization.
SIPC is looking into trademark issues and will seek to have the violator prosecuted to the extent the law allows.
In 2004, SIPC got law enforcement involved when it identified a look-alike Web site seeking to defraud investors. In 2007, SIPC prevailed in arbitration proceedings after an organization sought to register and use the www.sipc.com Web domain.