April 30, 2008                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton

MONTANA STATE AUDITOR’S OFFICE LAUNCHES PROGRAM TO HELP LAW ENFORCEMENT INVESTIGATE INVESTMENT FRAUD


      Outreach program gives Law Enforcement support to assist defrauded investors
      
      State Auditor John Morrison today announced a new outreach program that provides Montana law enforcement with resources and information to help investigate public complaints about investment fraud.
      
      “We recognize the importance of training law enforcement officers and prosecutors how to approach securities fraud, a crime that is often difficult to detect or understand,” said Morrison. “This program is designed to assist law enforcement professionals in identifying securities fraud and addressing investor complaints. Through this outreach effort, we hope to enhance the strong working relationship between Montana law enforcement and the Auditor’s Office,” Morrison said.
      
      Designed for use by law enforcement officers and district attorneys, the Law Enforcement Outreach Program offers training for law enforcement who field complaints or questions from investors who believe they have been defrauded. The free training resources include a “Securities 101” law enforcement textbook, a PowerPoint presentation and other training and presentation materials on how to spot investment fraud. Law enforcement agencies interested in obtaining the free investment fraud training materials may contact the Securities Division of the State Auditor’s Office.
      
      The program was produced by the Investor Education Coordination Project Group of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), of which the Montana Auditor’s Office is a member. The program also has been endorsed by the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). NASAA is the oldest international organization devoted to investor protection. Its membership consists of the securities administrators in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the provinces and territories of Canada, and Mexico.
      
      The State Auditor’s Office will roll out portions of this program during a law enforcement training seminar on senior fraud in Helena on May 5-7 hosted by Adult Protective Services.
      
      In addition to ongoing law enforcement training, the State Auditor’s Office offers resources to help educate Montana investors about financial fraud. “Because victims of investment fraud repeatedly tell us that they didn’t see it coming, my office produced a documentary to help people realize how it can happen,” said Morrison.
      
      The documentary called “Fraud Under the Big Sky” is an hour long presentation highlighting two major cases of investment fraud in Montana. The film tells the stories of many of the victims and in doing so, teaches people how to recognize fraud and prevent it from happening in the first place. It describes the resources offered by the State Auditor’s Office and explains how the agency can assist Montana investors. Free copies of the documentary in DVD format are available to the public by calling the State Auditor’s Office at 1-800-332-6148.
      
      “Educating both the potential victims and law enforcement about investment fraud is an important step in cracking down on it,” said Morrison. “If those on the front lines can recognize financial fraud, they can then do something about it -- often times, before the crime even takes place.”