Faux website looks to scam Madoff victims
As if things weren't tough enough for Bernie Madoff's victims: Scam artists have created a faux website mimicking that of the agency handling claims for the swindler's investors.
The phony group claims to be based in Geneva and has created a web site that looks similar to the one run by the Securities Investor Protection Corp. The real SIPC is an insurance fund that covers up to $500,000 of investor losses in the event of a brokerage firm failing.
The SIPC today announced that a fraudulent group had set up the web site I-SIPC.com and was attempting to lure Madoff victims. Among the false group's claims on its web site - the discovery of $1.3 billion hidden by Madoff in Malaysia. The phony group claims to have ties to the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund.
In a statement, SIPC President Stephen Harbeck said, "this bogus group is already attempting to obtain funds and confidential financial information from investors in the US."
He said Madoff victims and other investors should not share any personal financial information on the I-SIPC web site or rely upon it as an information source.
"We intend to use every available means to shut down this illicit operation,'' Harbeck said.
The site was still functional at midday today. The US Securities and Exchange Commission issued a statement about the group posing as an international branch of SIPC.
"Never underestimate the creativity and duplicity of con artists,'' the SEC said. "They will do anything to separate you from your money and securities."
Madoff's victims thought they had $65 billion in their accounts when the Ponzi artist confessed to his crime in December 2008. SIPC, working with the trustee assigned to the Madoff bankruptcy, Irving Picard, has received 12,047 claims from victims. So far, 1,936 claims have been allowed, and $650 million approved for payment.