SEC Investment Fraud Training Benefits OSI, DAF

  • Published
  • By Wayne Amann
  • OSI Public Affairs

The Office of Special Investigations Strategic Lines of Effort: Developing an Exceptional Force and Restore Readiness, received valuable operational support Jan. 26, 2021, courtesy of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.    

That day, the SEC provided 46 OSI personnel a virtual training session on Recognizing and Reporting Investment Fraud.

According to its training session flyer, the SEC is dedicated to serving the needs of the individual investor, including service members and veterans. Fraudsters may be, or pretend to be, a service member or veteran and exploit this connection to gain trust.

The virtual training focused on not becoming a victim, by understanding how to recognize the red flags of investment fraud and how to report suspected securities fraud.

OSI attendees could readily see the importance of the training.

“The training was a phenomenal, in-depth guide to the SEC’s mission to combat fraud,” said Special Agent Justin Sheldon, Director of Operations, Procurement Fraud Headquarters, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, D.C. “I was glad to learn that the SEC specifically targets fraud that impacts our active duty military members. The schemes and tactics being used to defraud the government are constantly evolving, and our investigative efforts need to do the same.” 

The training offers specific practical benefits, not only for OSI special agents, but the Department of the Air Force at large.

“With investment fraud growing and targeting military members, field agents could see an increase in DAF members as victims,” said SA Mona Aquino, Action Officer, Fraud and Corruption Branch, Investigations Collections Operations Nexus Center, Law Enforcement Division, Quantico, Va. “Agents could make DAF members aware of these potential threats during their Newcomers Brief or Threat Assessments briefs. Also, when victims report to OSI, this training could serve as a base for investigative steps.”

Both agents found favorite aspects about the training.

“(I enjoyed) the variety of case examples and learning how the various fraud schemes/allegations were discovered by the SEC,” said SA Sheldon. “It really highlighted different ways agencies are proactively detecting fraud schemes and the steps they’re taking to prove the elements of the allegations at the heart of their investigations.”

“Knowing how fraudsters target and exploit commonality (vets, military service, ethnic groups, etc),” SA Aquino said. “Also, how to identify whether an investment professional is legitimate or not via, and being able to see their employment history.”

The mission of the SEC, an independent federal regulatory agency, is to protect investors; maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets; and facilitate capital formation.

Its training, which was coordinated via the OSI Fraud and Collection Branch, ICON Center, Law Enforcement Division, in conjunction with the SEC Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, comes highly recommended for other agents by SAs Sheldon and Aquino.

“Yes!  It will broaden your knowledge of the larger community seeking to combat fraud and make you aware of the tools and techniques being used by others to complete their mission,” he said. 

“It’s good information to have for personal reasons as we can all fall victim to affinity fraud schemes, but also for investigation purposes when fraud victims report,” she said.

With the SEC Investment Fraud training in their ‘tool boxes,’ the 46 OSI attendees are further developing the command’s exceptional force by going beyond the traditional readiness in warfighting mindset. These OSI Airmen are being further-trained, equipped and enabled to do OSI’s primary job of conducting timely and unbiased investigations.