The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges against a Honolulu woman posing as an investment banker and soliciting investors through Twitter, Facebook, and other social media.
An SEC investigation found that Keiko Kawamura engaged in two separate fraudulent schemes to raise money from investors while casting herself as an investment and hedge fund expert when in fact she had virtually no prior trading experience. In one scheme, she sought investors for her self-described hedge fund and posted on Twitter some screenshots of brokerage account statements suggesting she was personally obtaining incredible investment returns. However, the account statements were not hers. And instead of investing the money she raised from investors, she spent it on her own living expenses and luxury trips to Miami and London. In a later scheme, Kawamura continued to boast phony experience to attract investors to her subscription service for investment advice. She falsely told subscribers that she had been in the investment banking industry for nearly a decade and had achieved 800 percent returns in her personal brokerage account.
“As alleged in our case, Kawamura used social media to ensnare investors and raise money to support her lifestyle,” said Michele Wein Layne, director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office. “Investors should beware of fraudsters who use social media to hide behind anonymity and reach many investors with little to no cost or effort.”
The SEC’s order instituting administrative proceedings alleges that Kawamura willfully violated Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5, and Sections 206(1), 206(2), and 206(4) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and Rule 20(4)-8. The administrative proceedings will determine any remedial action or financial penalties that are appropriate in the public interest against Kawamura.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Brent Smyth and Finola H. Manvelian of the Los Angeles Regional Office. The SEC’s litigation will be led by Donald Searles.
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SEC Investor Alert: Social Media and Investing - Avoiding Fraud