(Washington, DC) The Honorable Lawrence H. Mirel, Commissioner of the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) is taking this occasion to advise residents of the District of Columbia to beware of opportunistic investment scams in the wake of widespread devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
Commissioner Mirel warns that scam artists are always attempting to create ways to exploit tragic headlines to cash in on unsuspecting investors. In the aftermath of the tragedy caused by Hurricane Katrina, investors should be patient and cautious when making decisions about their investments or finances. Cold-calling salespeople, advertisements, or Internet postings that tout investment pools or bonds to help hurricane victims, or supposed water-removal or purification technologies and electricity-generating devices should be a red flag for District of Columbia investors.
Commissioner Mirel is also urging District of Columbia investors to be aware of oil-and-gas scams given the current oil prices and the prospect of higher prices following Katrina's destructive attack through the Gulf coast oil fields and refineries.
Residents of the District of Columbia are reminded that scam artists exploited fears associated with the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and the Year 2000 Computer Virus to promote investments in precious metals, emergency preparedness scams and non-existent technology companies, and consequently Commissioner Mirel encourages investors to do the following:
Hang up on aggressive cold callers promoting hurricane-related or oil-and-gas investments, and ignore unsolicited e-mail or Internet messages discussing small companies with new hurricane-related technologies or products;
Request written information that fully explains the investments being promoted;
Use common sense and avoid pie-in-the-sky promises, for they often signal investment fraud;
Contact the DISB to determine if both the promoter and the investment are licensed and registered. If not, they may be operating illegally.
Residents of the District of Columbia interested in this investor alert, investor education and investor protection matters are urged to contact Mr. Ron C. Claiborne
, DISB Public Affairs Specialist - Securities at either e-mail or (202) 442-7801.