News Release

FINRA Warns Investors of Viral Disease Stock Scams

WASHINGTON—The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued a new Investor Alert called Viral Disease Stock Scams: Don't Let Them Infect Your Portfolio warning investors of promotions touting stocks in companies that claim to provide products that protect against the spread of viruses or other harmful diseases. FINRA is aware of several potential investment scams involving companies that claim to be involved in the development of products that will prevent the spread of viral diseases.

"News coverage of Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is likely to catch the interest of 'pump and dump' scammers looking to capitalize on fears of a potential pandemic," said Gerri Walsh, FINRA's Senior Vice President for Investor Education. "Investors should be very cautious of any company that claims it is poised for dramatic growth as a result of a purported cure or treatment for high-profile viral diseases."

Viral Disease Stock Scams provides investors with a list of tips to avoid potential stock scams.

  • Consider the source. Be skeptical of press releases, emails and promotional materials from unknown senders hyping a company and its products.
  • Do some sleuthing. Find out who is at the controls of a company before you invest.
  • Be wary of frequent changes to a company's name or business focus. Frequent name changes may be a sign that a company is engaged in a potential fraud.
  • Don't fall for name dropping. Citing a relationship with a government agency, prominent company or academic institution may be a ploy to create legitimacy for a company that does not deserve it.

Investors who receive an offer that contains exaggerated or misleading claims are urged to contact FINRA.

FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and technology-based services. FINRA touches virtually every aspect of the securities business – from registering and educating all industry participants to examining securities firms, writing rules, enforcing those rules and the federal securities laws, informing and educating the investing public, providing trade reporting and other industry utilities, and administering the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and firms. For more information, please visit