Our speakers were from the Office of the Securities Commissioner, the “cops on the beat” for securities fraud, the only state office that enforces Hawaii Securities Laws (HRS Chapter 485A) in the state. Their cases come from formal written complaints from investors or the public, anonymous tips from their SCAM Hotline: 58-SCAMS (587-2267) or 1-877-HI SCAMS (1-877-447-2267)
Common threats investors face in Hawaii are: Ponzi schemes, affinity fraud, unregistered individuals selling securities, unregistered investment products, variable annuity sales practices, and sales pitches
In addition to various case studies, our speakers discussed a case in which a fraudster was identified by tracking his daughter’s social media activity, proving that anyone can use the Internet to investigate fraud. Using posts on such sites as Facebook and Instagram, they were able to put a face to the name of the suspect on paper. In addition, they extrapolate data onto Google maps and a scheduled garage sale at his home to pinpoint a time and place where he could be apprehended. One caveat to using social media as an investigative tool is to make sure your own identity is protected, so as not to prematurely alert someone that they are being watched by someone from your organization.
In addition to investigations, the agency also has an Investor Education Program, providing free investor information and educational presentations. For more information, check out their website at http://cca.hawaii.gov/sec/