There's no doubt that investment fraud is on the rise, and that older investors are a prime target. According to a 2010 Investor Protection Trust Survey, it's estimated that one in five seniors over the age of 65 has been taken in by financial fraud, which adds up to $7.3 million in the U.S. alone. Although many of the old tricks, like Ponzi schemes, still work, many fraudsters are turning to new tricks to take your cash and run with it. Variable annuity schemes are one of the newer ways unscrupulous brokers and financial advisors are targeting senior investors.
What Is a Variable Annuity?
A variable annuity, like other annuities, is an investment through a contract with a life insurance company and is used as a way to grow your assets tax-deferred and/or receive payments over your lifetime. The variable annuity is based on the performance of underlying investments.
What Goes Wrong with Variable Annuities?
A variable annuity can be appropriate for experienced investors who are willing to take the risks, but many seniors are being sold these investments as a "safe" way to bulk up retirement savings over a short period of time. Unfortunately, the safety of many of these investments is misrepresented or hidden under misleading statements.
It's important to understand that variable annuities usually:
- Come with high surrender charges
- Could have serious tax penalties
- Don’t have "Guaranteed" Returns, as returns depend on the market
- Are subject to high fees and commissions
- Are really designed for the long term, not the short term
Before putting your money into variable annuities, be sure you ask questions, do your research, and understand what you're getting into and how it will work in your overall financial picture. If you have lost money on a variable annuity investment due to stockbroker misconduct, speak with one of our experienced and helpful investment fraud attorneys today. Meyer Wilson represents senior investors who have been the victims of investment fraud nationwide.