SEC Enhances Its PAUSE Website Where SEC Provides a List of Entities That Falsely Claim to Be Registered, Licensed, and/or Located in the United States, As Well As Entities That Impersonate Genuine U.S. Registered Securities Firms and Fictitious Regulators, Governmental Agencies or International Organizations.
Kehoe Law Firm, P.C. is making investors aware that on February 24, 2020, the SEC announced that it updated its Public Alert: Unregistered Soliciting Entities (“PAUSE”) list by adding 25 soliciting entities and four fictitious regulators. The PAUSE Program lists entities that falsely claim to be registered, licensed, and/or located in the United States in their solicitation of investors. The PAUSE Program also lists entities that impersonate genuine U.S. registered securities firms as well as fictitious regulators, governmental agencies, or international organizations.
According to the SEC, the entities on the PAUSE list have been the subject of investor complaints. The latest additions are firms that SEC staff found were providing inaccurate information about their affiliation, location, or registration to solicit primarily non-U.S. investors. Under U.S. securities laws, firms that solicit investors, generally, are required to register with the SEC and meet minimum financial standards and disclosure, reporting, and record keeping requirements. Additionally, besides alerting investors to firms falsely claiming to be registered, the PAUSE list flags those impersonating registered securities firms and fictitious “regulators” who falsely claim to be government agencies or affiliates. The SEC stated that inclusion on the PAUSE list does not mean the SEC has found violations of U.S. federal securities laws or made a judgment about the merits of any securities being offered.
Key Sections of the SEC’s PAUSE List
Unregistered Soliciting Entities
These are entities that falsely claim to be registered, licensed, and/or located in the United States in their solicitation of investors. In many cases, SEC investigation reveals that the soliciting entities are not registered in the United States as they claim or imply. For each of the entities listed, the SEC has determined that there is no U.S. registered securities firm with this name. The SEC stated that it will regularly update this list.
These are entities that falsely claim to be a regulator, governmental agency, or international organization that do not exist. In many cases, SEC investigation reveals that the so-called governmental agencies or international organizations claimed to have lent support to these solicitations do not exist. The SEC stated that it will regularly update this list.
Impersonators of Genuine Firms
These are legitimate entities/firms whose information was wrongfully appropriated. This information may include the legitimate entity’s name, address, registration number, and website likeness. According to the SEC, the information was wrongfully appropriated from publicly-available databases, such as EDGAR and FINRA’s BrokerCheck, and phony websites were set up to confuse and deceive investors. In other cases, these “spoofer” entities have appropriated the registration information of legitimate firms that recently terminated registration with the SEC and FINRA, or did so years ago. Similarly, representatives of the impersonating entities who cold-call investors often claim to be licensed employees of the legitimate firms being impersonated or of other legitimate firms. The SEC has determined that the impersonators have no connection with, and are not to be confused with, the genuine firms, whether active or defunct. The SEC stated that it will regularly update this list.