Voice mail scam prompts SEC warning

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Investors are being told to be wary if they receive a friendly sounding voice mail from a female stranger offering a hot stock tip.
It could be a new investor scam that hundreds of people have complained about recently.
The Securities and Exchange Commission issued an investor alert Friday, warning of the so-called "wrong-number" stock touts, which have reached home answering machines across the country.
The "breezy, intimate" voice mails feature a female claiming to have mistakenly dialed a girlfriend to pass on insider information from "that hot stock exchange guy I'm dating." She says the stock price of a certain small company is about to shoot up.
Regulators say the voice mails may be part of a "pump and dump" stock manipulation scheme, in which the callers seek to profit by inflating the price of a stock, then selling them off. Investors who jump on the "hot" tip stand to lose as the price plummets.
The SEC is asking people who receive the messages to report the company being touted, the exact date and time of the call, the number called and the number from which it was made, if available. The messages can be reported by e-mail to Enforcementsec.gov, or by calling 1-800-SEC-0330.
Susan Wyderko, investor education director at the SEC, said investors should never buy stocks on the basis of 'hot' tops from strangers.
"We are concerned because the stock prices of the companies mentioned in these calls have gone up, presumably as people listen to the messages and buy," she said.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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