State officials: Beware of disaster-related scams post Hurricane Florence

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RICHMOND, Va. – A new warning from the State Corporation Commission (SCC) is cautioning Virginians to be mindful of scams in the wake of Hurricane Florence.

“We know from experience that financial predators often take advantage of disasters to peddle their schemes and profit from the misfortune of others,” Ronald Thomas, director of the SCC’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising, said.

After Hurricane Florence, Virginians should be alert of fraudulent investment opportunities and other scams. According to the SCC, signs of opportunistic investment may include unsolicited messages, calls or crowdfunding pitches which claim to promote helping victims with storm damage.

To protect yourself from disaster-related scams, Thomas advises the following points:

  • Delete unsolicited emails or social media messages and hang up on aggressive cold callers promoting hurricane-related investments, especially those from small companies touting unproven or new technologies or products.
  • Use common sense. Claims of guaranteed returns or little or no investment risk are classic red flags for fraud. Every investment involves some degree of risk.
  • Don’t be pressured to make rushed decisions about investments you don’t understand. Before deciding to invest, request written information that fully explains the investment
  • Do your homework. Contact the SCC’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising to check that both the seller and investment are registered. If they are not, don’t invest. Contact information is available on the division’s website at www.scc.virginia.gov/srf/srf_contact.aspx.
  • If you suspect you are the victim of fraud, report it to the Division of Securities and Retail Franchising immediately.

To contact the SCC’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising in Richmond, you can call (804) 371-9051 or toll-free in Virginia at 1-800-552-7945, or visit their website here.

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