Press Releases

For Immediate Release
August 19, 2004  


Scam Artists are Targeting Answering Machines With "Misdialed" Numbers and "Secret" Stock Tips


(Madison) Wisconsin regulators are receiving the first complaints in a scam that is working its way around the country. Staff of the Securities Division of the Department of Financial Institutions received a call from a Milwaukee man who found a message on his answering machine purporting to be a "misdialed" call from a stranger who appeared to believe she was calling a close friend to leave a hot investment tip.

"This is a scam that is sweeping the country where an unknown caller 'accidentally' leaves a message on an investor's answering machine," Staff Attorney Leslie Van Buskirk said. According to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission memo, it's probably not a wrong number at all. Instead it is from someone who is being paid to leave these messages on many answering machines. The people behind these calls probably own some of this stock and they hope other people will buy it too, preferably right away without researching the stock. They stand to gain by selling their shares if the stock price rises because investors buy. After the fraudsters sell their shares and stop promoting the stock, the price usually falls and investors lose their hard-earned money.

Van Buskirk asks that if people receive these scam messages that they report them to the Securities Division of the Department of Financial Institutions at 1-800-472-4325 before deleting the message. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection is also interested, according to Janet Jenkins, administrator of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, because the scam may be a violation of Wisconsin's direct marketing law as well as the do-not-call law.

The SEC's memo says that fraudsters frequently use the answering machine scam with small, lightly-traded companies that are difficult to check out. They advise "If it sounds too good to be true, it is."


For reference, the SEC website: