The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today issued an investor alert after people complained they had received telephone calls from a person who falsely identified himself as an SEC employee and then offered to give them a large sum of money if they deposited a smaller amount into a specified account.

SEC officials say some solicitations may use the name of a legitimate company and refer prospective investors to a Web site. However, the SEC says such solicitations, whether made by telephone, e-mail or some other method, are fraudulent.

The SEC says anyone receiving such a call or e-mail from a person claiming to be a government official soliciting money should always verify the person's identity. The SEC's personnel locator is (202) 551-6000. Callers can verify here whether the person who contacted them is really an SEC staff member and, if so, ask to speak with him or her directly. The SEC's Web site to report a possible fraudulent solicitation is:

When contacted, you should ask whether the person calling is employed by the SEC and request to speak with his or her supervisor. In addition, you can call the SEC at (800) SEC-0330 for general information or use an online form.

Those who have been contacted by someone misrepresenting himself as an SEC staff member should either call the SEC directly or submit a complaint form. You may also report the incident to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at

--Jim McConville