Bogus company Web sites mimicking government entities and promising easy money SECare sprouting in record numbers. In March, the SEC issued warnings to investors about a fraudulent Web site set up by a company named International SecurityInvestor Protection Corporation (ISIPC) which claimed that $1.3 billion in Madoff money has been found in Malaysia and urged Madoff victims to submit personal information to verify that they are on the restitution list. The site copied most of the content and design of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation Web site, and provided links to several legitimate government entities such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the IBA, falsely touting their sponsorship. (The SIPC is a non-profit organization created by Congress in 1970 toprotect customers in the event of a brokerage failure, acting as a trustee or working with independent court-appointed trustees to recover funds).

Two months after the ISIPC made its debut, the SEC posted an alert that a Web site for an entity calling itself the “US Securities and Equities Administration” was attempting to dupe investors by claiming that funds were being held by the U.S. government on their behalf, and asking for upfront fees to collect the funds.

One of the easiest ways to spot government-related online scams is to look at the Web site and e-mail addresses. No U.S. government agency has a Web site or e-mail address that ends in anything other than “.gov”, “.mil”, or “”.