The Secretary of State’s Office is reminding Missourians that protection from investment scams and theft is only a phone call away.
Secretary of State Robin Carnahan oversees the Missouri Securities Division, which registers all investment brokers and financial advisers.
Spokeswoman Laura Egerdal says investors shouldn’t do business with those not registered, or with complaints on their records. Unregistered firms working with Missouri clients are breaking the law.
Egerdal says scams and fraud are — unfortunately — all too common in Missouri, especially during this economic downturn.
The Investor Protection Hotline offers one-on-one assistance to those checking before they invest.
Egerdal says if investors who were putting away their life-savings would call and check every time, a lot of scams and theft could be avoided. Call (800) 721-7996.
More resources are available at missourisafesavings.com.
In a recent case, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. will pay $367,500 to the Missouri Investor Education and Protection Fund after a multi-state investigation found the firm’s agent registration practices failed to comply with state law.
The order states that Merrill Lynch violated Missouri securities law by allowing unregistered associates to sell securities. Although some client associates were properly registered in their home state as well as a neighboring state, many were accepting trade orders from clients in states in which the associates were not registered.
Merrill Lynch has agreed to pay more than $26.5 million in fines, penalties and other monetary sanctions and payments among the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with $367,500 going to the Missouri Investor Education and Protection Fund. Other states involved in the multi-state investigation included Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, New Hampshire, Texas and Vermont.