Silicon Valley Workers Get Hotlines to The FBI

Silicon Valley workers were provided with telephone and e-mail hot lines to send tips about accounting irregularities and securities frauds directly to federal authorities. These fraud tip services are believed to be the first of their kind in the United States.

The services were established by the Northern California divisions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), working with the Northern California divisions of the U.S. Attorney's office and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to the special agent in charge of the FBI's Northern California office, the decision to base the first services there was not based on any studies or presumptions that fraud is more common in Silicon Valley than other parts of the country.

To help educate both workers and the general public, the FBI has also launched a separate Web site that defines and gives examples of securities fraud. Anyone with information regarding potential securities fraud violations is encouraged to contact the San Francisco Division of the FBI, via e-mail at sq14a.San.Francisco@fbi.gov or telephone (415-551-7100 or 800-207-7676).

Authorities say they will keep all information confidential and will try to prevent businesses from retaliating against whistle-blowers. Last week, President Bush released a statement saying the new whistle-blower law will only protect those who provide information as part of a congressional investigation.

-Rosemary Schlank

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