Warning on Frauds and Scams

Anyone can be the target of financial fraud and scams. Your best defence is to stay informed, alert and secure. Below you will find tips on how to avoid being scammed and information on common financial services scams.
Protect Yourself – Be Scam Aware
  1. Be skeptical
    In the virtual world, fraudsters can easily disguise themselves. Be skeptical of the identities of anyone you meet online, particularly if they claim to be an investment advisor or celebrity. Be especially vigilant when offered unsolicited investment advice by online "friends."
  2. Do your homework
    Many of the stocks recommended by the operators of these scams were overvalued and there was no obvious justification for their prices to surge. Investors are strongly advised to do their own homework on a company before investing in it, or seek independent advice from licensed investment advisors.
  3. Be wary of investments that sound too good to be true
    If an investment sounds too good to be true, it often is. Remember that there is no such thing as a low-risk investment with high guaranteed returns—a claim frequently used by fraudsters to entice unwary investors by manipulating their fear of missing an opportunity.
Examples of Common Scams

The following are just some examples of common financial frauds. However, it is important to remember that perpetrators of fraud are constantly designing new ways to target their next victims. For this reason, you should remain vigilant and consider the possibility of fraud, even if the circumstances do not exactly fit one of the below examples. You should also keep an eye out for notices or warnings issued by your local regulator, exchanges or other market participants regarding patterns of fraudulent activity.

Clone Firm Scams:
Scammers may pretend to be from a legitimate firm to get you to transfer money to their account. In some cases, scammers may pretend to represent or be part of a reputable financial services company, including Interactive Brokers. The purpose of a Clone Firm Scam is to get you to transfer your money to an account that appears legitimate but which in fact belongs to the fraudsters.

These scams may involve the fraudster using a reputable firm's logo or letterhead, adopting names that resemble those of the reputable firm, or even using names and addresses of persons who are associated with the real firm.

Be wary of cold calls or emails you receive requesting money from you. Check to make sure all emails use the firm's real domain name (for IB, interactivebrokers.com, interactivebrokers.co.uk or interactivebrokers.ie). Be especially careful of any unprompted interactions through social media platforms; Interactive Brokers may promote its general products and services on social media but it will never interact with you through these channels in relation to your account. If you are unsure whether a communication is legitimate, please contact IB Client Services.

Watch out for Red Flags!

Here are some red flags you should watch out for, if contacted by someone claiming to work for IBKR or otherwise be affiliated with IBKR:

  • IBKR does not cold call consumers to offer services or products.
  • IBKR does not make investment recommendations.
  • IBKR does not charge you for assistance providing technical assistance in completing an account applications, and does not advise you on what information to enter in an account application.
  • IBKR does not charge you a fee to withdraw your funds.
  • IBKR does not ask for remote access to your computer or mobile device.
  • IBKR does not ask you to complete transfers of stock or money over the phone.
  • IBKR does not ask you to share login details, particularly when this is done by creating a sense of urgency (e.g. "we have detected a fraud/theft attempt on your account and need your log in details to stop/deflect it" or "we have been made aware of a crash in one of the products you currently hold and will help you sell it now before it loses X% of its value").

Check and Double Check!

If you are contacted by someone claiming to work for a regulated firm, remember:

  • Verify the details of the firm or individual on regulatory websites. For firms or individuals registered in the United States this includes:
  • Beware that scammers may point you to the real firm's genuine website but use different details for their communications with you. Acquire contact information directly from the member firm's website or the regulator's websites. Use an internet search to find the member firms official website rather than relying on a web address provided to you.
  • You can contact IBKR to verify the information or to report your concerns from this page: ibkr.com/help.
  • You can check what products and services we offer on ibkr.com.
  • If you do not hold an account with IBKR please report any concerns of fraud to the police in your local jurisdiction.

Pump-and-Dump or Ramp-and-Dump Schemes: In these schemes, scammers invest in a stock and then spread false or misleading information to create a buying frenzy that will artificially "pump" up the price of a stock. They then "dump" their own shares at the inflated price and stop hyping the stock, leading other investors to lose money as the stock price fails. Those recommendations may be presented as 'hot' information, from people in 'the know' and made available to you due to some privileged or special status.

Scammers often take full advantage of new technologies to spread false or misleading information about a company's stock price. For example, trading "recommendations" are frequently spread through messaging apps, social media platforms and/or web blogs.

Interactive Brokers has published further information relating to the increasing trend of Ramp-and-Dump Scams in this disclosure.

Trash-and-Cash Schemes: These are the opposite of pump and dump schemes. In Trash-and-Cash schemes, scammers circulate false information to encourage people to believe that a relatively illiquid security is likely to plunge in value and should be sold. When those who see this information sell the security, the price plummets and the scammers then swoop in to buy it up at a low price.

Retirement Account Scams: Retirement account disbursements are commonly accessible once a minimum age has been reached. Early access is normally possible but often leads to early withdrawal penalties. With this scam, fraudsters promise "penalty free" early access to retirement benefits through alleged tax loopholes and use complex schemes to erode retirement accounts through commissions, investments, etc.

Affinity Fraud: Scammers who carry out affinity scams frequently are (or pretend to be) members of the group they are trying to defraud. Scammers exploit their victim's age, religious, ethnic, sexual, or professional identity to gain their confidence knowing that it's human nature to trust people who are like you. Affinity fraud almost always involves either a fake investment or an investment where the fraudster lies about important details (such as the risk of loss, the investment's track record, or the scheme promoter's background).

Many affinity frauds are Ponzi or pyramid schemes, in which money given to the promoter by new investors is paid to earlier investors to create the illusion that the so-called investment is successful. Eventually, when the supply of investor money dries up and current investors demand to be paid, the scheme collapses and investors discover that most or all of their money is gone.

To protect yourself against affinity fraud, always carry out your own research and due diligence before entering into arrangements to accept investment advice or services. In particular, you should always verify the credentials of the person or company offering the service and confirm whether they are regulated to carry out that activity by checking the register of your local regulator.

Holy Grail Scams: Scammers are well aware of the attraction of a 'holy grail' trading system that will generate profits 24/7/365 with no risk or losses. One common tactic is to market a secret formula or strategy that promises extraordinary returns. Be aware of extravagant claims and testimonials that seem too good to be true. They usually are!