Oil Spill Cleanup Scams

From bogus stocks to fake job opportunities, don�t let con artists get away with your cash

Speaking of dirty and slick: Be on guard against oil spill cons

Whenever there’s an opportunity, scammers often find a way to use their dirty little tricks to get into your pocket. Unfortunately, two scams related to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have recently cropped up.

Stock Scams

The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority recently notified the public about oil spill stock scams, which promise financial gains from investments in companies that say they’re  involved in the cleanup. For example, last month, the SEC noted that it temporarily suspended trading in shares of Huntington, California-based ACT Clean Technologies Incorporated. The company claimed that BP was interested in using technology licensed to its wholly-owned subsidiary that could be used in the cleanup operation. ACT Clean Technologies Inc. also claimed that tests were done proving that their technology was effective for the oil cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico. The SEC says it moved forward with the suspension because it had questions about the accuracy and adequacy of this information.

Bogus Training

Know that you don’t have to pay to get training or a job to help with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Despite that fact, there are fake employment companies that are charging a fee for training and job opportunities. If you’re interested in getting involved with the cleanup, you can find legitimate opportunities by visiting the Deepwater Horizon Response Website or calling 866-448-5816.

How You Can Protect Yourself

You can protect yourself from falling victim to these types of scams. The SEC and FINRA offer the tips below on detecting oil spill investment scams. They say that a company might send out a press release, fax, or e-mail that might make the following claims:

  • They have products or technologies that are effective in cleaning up oil spills or restoring the eco-system
  • They advertise contracts with BP that will assist with the cleanup effort
  • They claim the company is providing assistance or expertise to BP or U.S. government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency
  • The company predicts rapid sales growth
  • You must invest immediately

Furthermore, you can shield yourself from oil spill employment scams by calling BP directly and verifying the relationship between them and any employment company that claims to be offering jobs with BP.

Sheiresa Ngo is the consumer affairs editor at Black Enterprise.

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