Jack Waymire, the founder of Investor Watchdog said “Most investors are vulnerable to investment scams because they don’t know a real advisor from a fake one. Glib salesmen have had years of experience saying whatever it takes to convince people to invest in their scams.”
Waymire went on to say, “Providing the public with education and information about fraud is never-ending because con artists are always dreaming up new ways to fleece the public.”
One way to protect yourself from investment fraud and deceptive sales tactics is to know the Top 10 scams and avoid them.
1. Ponzi Schemes: have stolen more money than any other type of scam. That’s because early investors, who are paid with the assets of later investors, believe they have a great investment so they tell friends, family, and associates. This phenomenon creates a lot of new investors who provide the assets the scam operators need to pay the earlier investors. Ponzi schemes can perpetuate themselves for decades as long as there are no excessive demands for distributions.
2. Promissory notes: are a popular scam that is sold to seniors who need high interest rates and low risk to fund their standards of living during retirement. A promissory note appears to be the perfect investment until the fraud is exposed and people learn there were no actual investments.
3. Loans (Private Placements): are potential scams because you do not really know if your money was actually lent to a credit-worthy borrower. You receive monthly reports stating your assets are producing great returns, but you should know by know, many of these reports are fake.
4. Currency Scams: are popular with criminals because trading currencies is an exotic undertaking, has the potential of producing high returns, and has exceptional complexity which seems to give these scams additional credibility.
5. Investing in Precious Metals: seems to be as exotic as trading currencies. Like other scams, the bullion you are supposed to own may not exist. One reason is the scam operators know you will not visit the company that is storing the bullion. Or, you are sold an interest in a gold mine that does not produce any gold. Most investors take the word of the seller that the mine is producing great results.
6. Life Settlements (Viaticals): sound like a reasonable investment, but they have a bad reputation. That’s because they may take advantage of vulnerable seniors who are terminally ill. They can also take advantage of investors who invest in fake life settlement programs. Watch-out for the newest scamSenior Settlements that buy interests in the death benefits of healthy people. It is very difficult to predict when someone is going to die.
7. Unregistered Investments: Just because financial documents look real, do not assume all securities have been properly registered with the regulatory agencies. It is easy for criminals to copy real documents to create unregistered securities for fake companies.
8. Prime bank scams: prey on people who believe the ultra-wealthy have exclusive investment opportunities that are not available to the general public. And, these opportunities produce exceptional returns that sound real because they are used by the ultra-wealthy.
9. Investment Seminars: may also be scams because the only making money is the people presenting the seminars. Most seminars promote get rich quick schemes which rarely work for the masses. To get rich you need a great idea, a great strategy, adequate working capital, and disciplined execution of the strategy. Besides, if the idea was that great they would not be sharing it with you.
10. Annuities: can be an investment scam when financial advisors replace your current annuities with inferior products so they can generate a new round of commissions from your assets.