I just heard about McWhortle Enterprises for the first time today.

They describe themselves as:

McWhortle Enterprises is an established and well-known manufacturer of biological defense mechanisms. Fortune 500 companies routinely use McWhortle Defense systems to protect their far-flung executives living in dangerous areas. These discreet, confidential safeguards have for years given employees and their families peace of mind.

In the wake of the anthrax scare, they came out with a biohazard detector.

They’ve got product information and excellent testimonials on the site. But if you really want a piece of their action, you’ll have to invest. Which is nice because they have a handy “invest now” link on their site. Apparently it’s a pretty hot IPO.

Of course, if you do decide to invest for real you’ll end up on a page which says this:

McWhortle Enterprises does not exist. It is a complete fabrication, posted by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the North American Securities Administrators Association, and the National Association of Securities Dealers to alert investors to potential on-line frauds.

This site shows some of the telltale signs of on-line investment fraud. Promises of fast and high profits, with little or no risk, are classic red flags of fraud. Remember – if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is! For more information, read the SEC’s brochure, “Internet Fraud: How to Avoid Investment Scams,” or the tip sheet, “Stock Market Fraud: `Survivor’ Check List.” [Italics mine]

The site’s a bit outdated since it went live in 2002 in response to stock fraud–defense stocks in particular.

It’s an interesting idea. Do people just invest like that? Read a few webpages and decide to invest? Or did people only visit the site after hearing about it?

I don’t know. I have to say, the number of people who do fall for scams do sometimes make it tempting. If only I was smarter or well…evil.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan S. January 17, 2008 at 2:46 am

Sadly, yes, some folks just go ahead and jump into investments without knowing a darned thing about them…


CatherineL January 17, 2008 at 4:24 am

My goodness Mrs M – that was scary. McWhortle’s sounded so plausible too. I was going to go right off and research them after reading your post.

But, they don’t even exist? This is a good example of how easy it is to get scammed if you don’t do your research first.

KMC January 17, 2008 at 6:07 am

I feel for the SEC. They’re an underfunded agency up against a lot of very well funded people. This sounds like a neat, unconventional (and cheap) way to try to educate people.

Dad January 17, 2008 at 1:43 pm

That was good 🙂 However, not everyone liked it. I googled for McWhortle and found a number of links including:


That site declared McWhortle.com the *unethical* web site of the month because “the government lied to us”. I think that someone’s nose is out of joint because s/he was fooled by the site and had his/her pride hurt.

On the other hand, I think it is an excellant object lesson for people. Apparently, according to another site, the SEC has a number of such sites out there to educate the public.

I rather enjoyed the article on this site:

which put their own users to the test with McWhortle and defended themselves against the heat they took for it.

mrsmicah January 17, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Wait, it’s unethical to make a demonstration site of how easily people can be fooled? That’s hilarious! Sure it’d be bad if they took peoples’ money…

The guy on the site thinks that the SEC should find other ways of educating us. I think McWhortle’s genius is that it fools the people who think they know all the tricks. If they saw a release saying “Some scams may disguise themselves as legitimate businesses, yadda yadda yadda,” they’d say “Duh, we know that.” It’s only when they see HOW legitimate the sites can look that the message hits home.

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