Impersonation Alert – Beware of Imposters!

It has recently come to my attention that there are several cases of unknown people (imposters / frauds) creating and using fake profiles and fake social media channels to dupe people.

Imposter scams come in many varieties, but work the same way: a scammer pretends to be someone you trust to convince you to send them money. These imposters/fraudsters tend to create confusion and lure investors with unrealistic claims. These impostors pose themselves as RIAs and reach out to investors claiming to be Registered Investment Advisors (RIA) and solicit money for investments on their behalf (and/or as a fee). Many of them also take investors’ money causing distress to the victims and adverse ramifications for the advisor (whose details were faked to solicit funds from the victims in the first place).

Given the history and goodwill earned, these imposters misuse the profile, visibility in the media and public recognition of RIAs like me to mislead and scam the public.

I hope you have never been a victim of financial fraud in past and hope this never happens also. However, these fraudsters are smart and it helps to take precautions.

Therefore, please be suspicious if you receive emails/messages/calls like – 

  • A payment request from me citing distress on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Telegram etc. It is easy to create fake profiles on such platforms, OR
  • A fee payment request from someone posing as me on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Telegram etc. I will request fee payment only from official email ids (listed later on this page), OR
  • A payment request from me that may seem unreasonable, OR
  • A message/email from me requesting payment where the language and tone of the message seem different from how I usually write. As I understand, these days, it is not very difficult to spoof email addresses too, OR
  • An impersonator can easily copy my name and photo from the public domain. So if you use UPI apps for fee transfer, then make sure you transfer it to the account details that I send you by mail only as it is also very easy for impersonators to choose a UPI address that reads and sounds similar. Hence, you can be misled if you just focus on the photograph and UPI link.

The official online presence is limited ONLY to the following (if any) –

I am no technology or security expert and hence, it is difficult to cover all grounds of suspicion. Therefore, when in doubt or when things seem out of place, please reach out to me before you make any payments.

Additional Points :

  1. Registered Investment Advisors (RIA) are not permitted to take custody of investor money.
  2. RIAs can only provide advisory services.
  3. RIAs cannot transact on your behalf. RIAs are not permitted to accept Power of Attorney from investors.
  4. I will never ask you to transfer money to my account to invest on your behalf. Therefore, if you receive a request from me (or anyone else claiming to be an RIA) to transfer funds for investment on your behalf, you are dealing with a fraudster and not a genuine adviser. Please do not transfer funds. Inform me too so that I know about it.
  5. I only provide financial planning and investment advisory services. I do not provide stock advisory.
  6. I do send WhatsApp and telegram updates about articles that I write on my site to people. But I don’t have any Telegram/WhatsApp/Facebook/LinkedIn/Instagram group or forum where I provide paid stock tips. I repeat I do not have any groups or forums on any communication or social media like Telegram, WhatsApp, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or any others where I provide paid stock tips. If you find one where it poses as me, do let me know please so that I can take action against the fraudster.
  7. SEBI regulations explicitly prohibit any monetary transactions between the investor and RIA except for the advisory fee. The only monetary transaction between you and me will be my fee payment. Nothing else.

In fact, it is not just the RIAs that are troubled by these imposters. Even the regulator SEBI has been facing issues due to these imposters. Via this SEBI press release (PR No. 16/2021 – link1 and link2), the Indian securities market regular SEBI is cautioning investors against impersonation. RBI too has published about the threats from financial fraudsters and how to deal with them (link1 and link2)

That’s a lot of things that may scare you. But don’t be.

I just thought I should make the readers aware of these things as fraudsters and imposters are getting smarter every day. So it’s always good to be cautious as, after all, it is your hard-earned money.

As an abundant caution, I wish to alert you, about such impersonations and request you to be careful while engaging with anyone and ensure you are transacting with the real RIA (me) only.

While I proactively update clients via emails about cyber security (as required by SEBI from time to time) and to website readers (via pages like the one you are reading), eventually, it is up to you to protect yourself from imposters and fraudsters. Please be careful, aware and alert in safeguarding yourself against all possible cyber-fraud incidents, by following secured practices and building a safe digital environment. Always and only engage with me via the above-mentioned official channels only.

Please report any fraudulent practices or fake profiles you may encounter to me at the earliest.

Issued in the public interest.

Disclaimer – I, Dev Ashish (SEBI RIA) will not be responsible for, and expressly disclaim all liabilities for, damages of any kind arising out of the use of, reference to, or reliance on any information and/or communication on any communication channels used by imposters. The general public shall take note that anyone who engages on unofficial communication channels, or any other platform and material promoted by the imposters does so at their own risk.