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The Associated Press October 13, 2010, 4:43PM ET

SEC issues investor alert on BP oil spill payout

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday warned individuals and small businesses about potential investment frauds targeting those who get payouts from BP in relation to the Gulf oil spill.

The scams may offer investment opportunities that promise high returns with little or no risk, or involve "secretive or complex strategies," the SEC said.

In a release, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro noted that highly publicized payouts often elicit investment fraud scams. After Hurricane Katrina, many scams targeted individuals receiving compensation from insurance companies, the SEC notes.

The SEC says it's working with public libraries near BP claim centers to distribute investment education materials.

The SEC also noted that members of religious, ethnic or other close-knit groups are often targeted because of the trust within such communities.

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