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Vermonters could be victims of nationwide Ponzi scheme

An unknown number of Vermonters could be victims of an alleged Ponzi and pyramid scheme that took $600 million nationwide from more than 1 million investors, according to the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation.

On Aug. 18, the Securities and Exchange Commission shut down the websites ZeekRewards.com and Zeekler.com, claiming that since January 2011, customers were offered and sold unregistered securities and encouraged to reinvest in the company. According to court papers filed in U.S. District Court in North Carolina, almost 98 percent of revenues paid to investors were from funds received from new investors.

The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation wants to remind Vermonters that it is important to investigate before you invest.

Commissioner Steve Kimbell warned, “Not only do people lose money, they also lose trust and self-confidence, especially during hard economic times. Do your homework. Be skeptical. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

If you are thinking about investing or already have, you can inquire about a company’s registration and licensing at the DFR Securities Division at http://www.dfr.vermont.gov/securities/home and verify information with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck at http://www.finra.org/Investors/ToolsCalculators/BrokerCheck/.