HELENA, Mont. -- The Securities and Exchange Commission is warning that scammers could target Native American beneficiaries of a $3.4 billion government settlement.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan on Wednesday gave final approval to the settlement, meant to compensate for more than a century of federal government mism anagement of Native American land royalties. The first payments are expected to go out to up to 550,000 plaintiffs in the case after a 60-day appeals period.

The SEC on Friday issued an alert to warn payout recipients to be on the lookout for investment scams.

Owen Donley, chief counsel in the SEC's Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, says any time there is a lump-sum payout to a particular ethnic or religious group, it can be an attractive target for fraudsters.

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