Identity theft has taken on a new twist.
In a recent case in New Hampshire, the identity of an entire fund company was hijacked.
On June 15, Mariann Murphy, vice president of marketing at Pax World Funds of Portsmouth, N.H., learned about a website, FairPax.com, that was using wording taken verbatim from the description of Pax World's high-yield funds and had posted a letter signed by Laurence A. Shadek and Thomas W. Grant, Pax World's chairman and president, respectively.
"It was disturbing because they had verbatim language about our high-yield fund," Ms. Murphy said. "They also had an enticement-to-join letter signed by the Pax World president and Pax World chairman."
The website also promised annual returns of 657%.
Pax World officials quickly contacted the Securities and Exchange Commission, which, on June 21, obtained a temporary restraining order from Joseph A. DiClerico Jr., U.S. district judge for the District of New Hampshire, to shut down the website and freeze the firm's assets. On July 1, the court entered a preliminary injunction against FairPax Inc. The SEC documents did not identify the principals.
"I was surprised because you hear of this kind of thing with banks," Ms. Murphy said. "We didn't see it coming against a mutual fund. It's certainly something we will keep an eye on down the road. Any mutual fund should be out there checking the web for this kind of thing." She said she had not heard of any other mutual fund's identity being stolen and said Pax World was not seeking damages.
A spokesman for the SEC in Boston said the commission would seek the return of any money investors sent to FairPax Inc.