The 10 Most Common Investment Scams
Scammers have spent millennia refining old schemes and creating new ones to separate a mark from their money. While people are constantly testing out new ideas in an attempt to strike gold, the main rotation of scams that you need to look out for remains more or less the same:
- Ponzi Schemes: Ponzi schemes work by paying earlier investors back with later investor’s money. When executed well, this cycle can last for a long time, potentially securing the scammer billions of dollars before they’re caught.
- Promissory Notes: This scam mostly targets senior citizens, the most commonly targeted demographic. These notes are sold to investors looking for investments with high interest rates and low risks in order to keep up their standard of living throughout their retirement.
- Loans: While loans on their own aren’t a scam, they can become one when the lender isn’t actually a credit-worthy, collateralized borrower.
- Currency Scams: These scams are especially popular with criminals because it can feel exotic to trade foreign bank notes, and because the complexity in these transactions can add an extra layer of credibility to the scammer.
- Investing in Precious Metals: Similar to trading currency, investing in precious metals can seem like an exciting prospect. These scams work because scammers are confident that investors won’t visit the company or mine that supposedly contains the metals, and will just take their word that everything is going well.
- Life Settlements: These scammers usually target senior citizens with a terminal illness, though they also go after people worried about what will happen to their dependents after they die. It’s difficult to actually predict when someone is going to die, and investing in these scams can lock up your money for years, if not forever.
- Unregistered Investments: There’s a reason regulatory bodies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) exist – keeping financial advisors, brokers, and brokerage companies registered allows them to be regulated and tracked. Otherwise, anyone could simply copy official-looking documents and offer “deals” to unwitting investors.
- Prime Bank Scams: These scams target people who believe that the wealthiest people have access to exclusive investment opportunities that produce unbelievable results.
- Investment Seminars: While seminars aren’t necessarily scams, the only people who directly make money from them are the people who do the presentation. When the ideas they teach are useless, attendees gain nothing of value and are out the cost of a ticket.
- Annuities: Fraudulent brokers may attempt to generate additional commission for themselves by replacing your current annuities with lesser products. In most cases, they don’t even inform their client of the transactions.
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