NASD issued an investor alert Tuesday, warning that fraudsters are using e-mails and faxes to promote fake websites that resemble U.S. and international regulators' official websites, where they are pitching stocks and using embedded cookies to track visitors' personal information. The ploys are primarily aimed at non-U.S. investors and are designed to obtain investors' money.

The fake websites referring to U.S. regulators end in "-gov.us," whereas all U.S. government websites end in ".gov," and they refer to at least three non-existent agencies: Central Registry Regulators, National Mergers and Acquisitions Board and Board of Commissioners of Mergers & Acquisitions.

"What we are seeing is a new trick to lend legitimacy to money-making 'advance fee' schemes by fraudsters in the international arena," said NASD Senior Executive Vice President Elise Walter. "It is important that investors, both in the U.S. and abroad, be wary of these investment scams, and if they suspect they are being targeted, call or e-mail their regulator."

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