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DFR reminds consumers to be wary of romance scams this Valentine's Day (Photo) - 02/13/24

Salem – Romance scams can happen any time of year, but with Valentine’s Day this week, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) is warning people to watch their wallets when it comes to online romance.

A romance scam happens when a scammer uses a fake online identity to gain a person’s trust and affection and uses the illusion of romance or intimacy to steal from the victim. Hallmarks of this scam include the scammer making outlandish promises or portraying an urgent need to send money to them, oftentimes incorporating elements of investment or cryptocurrency fraud as a part of the deceit.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2022 alone, romance scams affected nearly 70,000 people who were scammed out of $1.3 billion. Scammers pay attention to information you share over the internet and then pounce on those they believe are the most vulnerable, often those who are elderly or disabled. They will offer comfort and stability and seem like the perfect match. 

According to the FBI, common romance scam red flags include:

  • The scammer makes promises to meet in person, but gives excuses as to why they cannot.
  • The scammer asks for money once they gain your trust. Typically, they claim that they owe a debt, need financial assistance, or need travel funds. Oftentimes, the requests are urgent or revolve around an emergency and they want you to get the funds immediately.
  • The scammer requests money through methods that make it hard to be traced and hard to get back such as Venmo or Cash App, cryptocurrency, or gift cards.
  • The scammer asks to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.

Newer scams are calling on victims to use virtual currency kiosks, which are also known as Bitcoin or cryptocurrency ATMs. These machines look and operate like bank ATMs, and they allow scammers to receive payment in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Tether, and Ethereum. Scammers trick victims into withdrawing cash from their bank account and then direct the consumer to deposit the cash into a virtual currency kiosk. The consumer purchases the virtual currency, which is then sent to the scammer’s crypto wallet.

DFR encourages consumers to do their homework before making any new financial transactions. Protect yourself from falling victim to a scam by following these tips:

  • Do not send money to anyone you have not met in person and be cautious about sharing personal or financial information. Do not send money that you are not prepared to lose.
  • Do not transfer money to unknown people or intermediaries. If you need to use a third party to send money, use a licensed money transmitter.
  • Keep copies of all communications with scammers and report them to the division, the online dating site, the local police, the FBI, and the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Be leery of offers or enticements that promise unrealistic rates of return. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“Romance scams prey on and target everyday people through what may seem to be legitimate communications,” said DFR Administrator TK Keen. “The proliferation of online dating sites and the ability to move money cheaply and quickly has only added to this problem, as fraudsters have used these means to take advantage of consumers to the tune of millions of dollars nationally. It is worth being weary and watching for red flags, specifically if someone not well known to you insists on receiving funds via cryptocurrency or gift cards.”

For more information and tips about investing, visit DFR’s website

If you suspect you are involved in a romance scam or you have fallen victim, contact one of the division’s consumer advocates at 1-888-877-4894 (toll-free) or email dfr.financialserviceshelp@dcbs.oregon.gov.

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About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and  www.dcbs.oregon.gov.​​

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Oregon joins 25 other states, SEC in $3 million settlement with TradeStation crypto program (Photo) - 02/07/24

Salem – The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR), along with a taskforce of state securities regulators, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a $3 million settlement in principle with TradeStation Crypto, Inc. over its unregistered crypto interest earning program. The settlement resolves allegations that TradeStation violated state and federal securities laws by offering and selling securities without proper registration or disclosure to investors.

The settlement stems from a comprehensive investigation led by state securities regulators in Alabama, California Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Washington, and Wisconsin and coordinated under the auspices of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) enforcement section committee.

“This settlement sends a clear message that crypto-related businesses must comply with state securities laws or face serious consequences,” said DFR Administrator TK Keen. “DFR is committed to protecting investors and the integrity of the financial markets from those who do not comply with our requirements.”

TradeStation, a Florida corporation formed in 2018, provides crypto-asset-related financial services to retail and institutional customers in the U.S., including investing and trading services. From around August 2020 to June 2022, TradeStation offered a crypto interest earning program to U.S. investors. Under this program, investors could passively earn interest on crypto assets by loaning them to TradeStation. TradeStation maintained total discretion over the revenue-generating activities utilized to earn returns for investors. The company offered and promoted its crypto interest earning program in the U.S. via its website and various platforms.

TradeStation is alleged to have failed to comply with state registration requirements and, as a result, investors were sold unregistered securities in violation of state laws and additionally were deprived of critical information and disclosures necessary to understand the potential risks of TradeStation’s crypto interest earning program.

For the states participating in the settlement, TradeStation will pay a fine of $29,411.76 each and cease offering, selling, or renewing its crypto interest earning program until such activities are compliant with applicable state and federal securities laws. TradeStation has repaid investors, including interest and earnings.

DFR urges investors to exercise caution when dealing with crypto-related businesses and to report any suspicious activities to one of our consumer advocates, who can be reached at 888-877-4894 (toll-free) or dfr.fiancialserviceshelp@dcbs.oregon.gov.

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About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and  www.dcbs.oregon.gov.​​

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Oregon employers, workers invited to take a 'Safety Break' May 8 (Photo) - 02/01/24

Salem – It’s a day to recognize employer and worker successes in cultivating safe and healthy workplaces. It’s a day to engage in open and direct conversations – including employee participation and feedback – about what is going well and what can be improved. It’s a day to reflect on future challenges and to develop plans to minimize or eliminate workplace hazards.

Employers and workers across the state are invited to take part in Safety Break for Oregon, coordinated by Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (Oregon OSHA), a division of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services.

The annual event – now in its 21st year – offers an opportunity to employers, supervisors, and workers across Oregon to celebrate their safety and health achievements, and to examine and renew their efforts to protect people from harm while on the job. 

Will you take the Wednesday, May 8, stand-down as a time to refresh your knowledge and training? Will you conduct an assessment of where safety and health could be improved at your workplace? Or will you celebrate your successes and recognize emerging safety leaders? 

The choice of activity is yours. Sign up now. You could even win a $100 prize.

“We encourage employers across all types of industries to pause their operations and remind everyone at their business or organization about the critical importance of putting safety first in the workplace,” said Renée Stapleton, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “Safety Break for Oregon is a time to bring employers and employees together to talk through safety and health issues, identify protective methods, and make expectations clear – all with a goal of preventing injury and illness in the workplace.”

Oregon OSHA encourages employers and workers to share their Safety Break activities on social media; tag Oregon OSHA on Facebook and LinkedIn with #SafetyBreak.

As you celebrate Safety Break for Oregon, Oregon OSHA encourages you to use the division’s free resources. If you have questions about how to apply Oregon OSHA rules to your workplace, contact our technical specialists for free. If you want free and confidential help reviewing and improving your safety and health program, contact our consultation services. Moreover, Oregon OSHA offers many free education and training resources that you may want to use as part of your Safety Break for Oregon activity.

Employers that sign up online by Friday, May 3, and participate in Safety Break for Oregon will be entered to win one of three $100 checks to be used for a luncheon of their choice.

The prizes will go to participating companies as part of a random drawing. The Oregon SHARP Alliance sponsors the contest. The nonprofit group promotes safety and health management by encouraging teamwork and cooperation among people, employers, and organizations to improve workplace health and safety for Oregon workers.

Get Safety Break ideas, logos, sample awards, and other free resources by visiting the Safety Break for Oregon website

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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state's workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.oregon.gov/dcbs.

 

 

 


 

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Raymond James to pay nearly $200,000 in penalties and restitution for overcharging commissions to Oregon investors (Photo) - 01/31/24

Salem – Oregon’s Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) joined a multi-state settlement alleging that Raymond James & Associates, Inc. and Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. charged unreasonable commissions to retail customers on small-dollar transactions. 

As a result of a coordinated investigation by state securities regulators, the group concluded that from July 1, 2018, to July 17, 2023, Raymond James charged unreasonable commissions on more than 270,000 equity trades and transactions nationwide resulting in overcharges of $8.25 million.

In Oregon, Raymond James charged unreasonable commissions totaling $96,550.83 to Oregon investors in 2,740 transactions. As part of the settlement, Raymond James will pay restitution and interest of $109,349.94 directly to the affected Oregon investors and a $75,000 civil penalty to the State of Oregon.

“Our division is pleased to be a part of this multi-state action to protect Oregon investors and hold Raymond James accountable for charging unreasonably high commissions,” said DFR Administrator TK Keen. “Protecting investors from unfair practices is a charge we take seriously. This settlement is a reminder that our division will hold companies accountable if they breach the trust of their customers.”

In addition to the fine and restitution, as part of the settlement, Raymond James agreed to change and enhance its policies and procedures to ensure that all commissions are fair and reasonable and completed a review to assess the efficacy of the changes it made.

The consent order can be found on our website.

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About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and  www.dcbs.oregon.gov.​​

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